Food For the Soul: Homemade Lentil Soup
Well, it’s finally here: Winter. Her icy winds pierced my soul this morning and I knew our lovely (if perplexing) extended autumn was over. Which got me to thinking about soups of all sorts. So, I asked my daughters what kind of soup I should make them for dinner and I got a unanimous vote for my lentil soup. It’s the perfect balm to this frigid day. Plus, it’s healthy, hearty and oh, so easy to make. What more could you want from a weeknight meal? This recipe is modified from lots of different versions I’ve tried over the years, but I’ve settled on this version which is the simplest and never disappoints. Enjoy!
Homemade Lentil Soup
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
1 lb organic lentils, picked and rinsed
8 c organic chicken stock
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 ground cardamom
1 cup baby spinach, optional
tomato paste, for thickening
salt, to taste
In a big stock pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp olive oil, then add the vegetables, garlic and salt. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, lentils, and spices and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Then lower heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste, and cook for 15-20 minutes more, or until the lentils are tender. Then, use an immersion blender to thicken the soup to your liking and add the spinach (optional). Serve with a hunk of crusty bread and a sprinkle of grated asiago or parmesan on top.
Note: Craving protein in this soup? I’ve occasionally made this with sausage or chicken. Cook the meat beforehand (you can never go wrong cooking chicken thighs in the crock pot) and add it at the tail end after you’ve used the immersion blender to thicken it up.
Mollie Michel is a South Philly resident and a Philadelphia public school parent. A recovering non-profit professional, Mollie is also an experienced birth doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and the mom of two awesome girls and a sweet pit bull named Princess Cleopatra. In her spare time, she is usually trying to figure out how Pinterest works, training for a(nother) half-marathon with her dog at her side, or simply trying to keep up with her increasingly wily daughters.
Photo by Denise Johnson