Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hearty Lentil Soup

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For my ladies' quarterly dinner group, we've started a soup swap.  We each bring a quart of homemade soup to exchange after dinner.  This time I came home with Strawberry Soup (like a smoothie!), Cold Curried Carrot and Cocunut Milk, Potato Leek, and Mushroom Soup.  I made Hearty Lentil Soup from Cook's Illustrated.

Hearty Lentil Soup
Cook's Illustrated

From the Cook's Illustrated website: Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven cook until crispy:
      3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 3 ounces) 

Add to the pot, and stir occasionally until they soften (about 2 min.):
      1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups) 
      2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup) 

Add and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds):
     3 medium cloves garlic, minced 

Stir in and cook for another 30 seconds:
     1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
     1 bay leaf 
     1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Stir in:
      1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over (7 ounces) 
      1 teaspoon table salt 
      ground black pepper to taste

Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened (about 8-10 minutes).

Uncover, increase heat to high, and add:
     1/2 cup dry white wine

Bring to a simmer and then add:
     4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth 
     1 1/2 cups water

Bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape (30-35 min.).  Discard the bay leaf.

Puree 3 cups of soup in the blender until smooth*, then return to the pot.  Stir in:
      1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 

Heat soup over medium-low heat until hot, about 5 minutes.  

Stir in:
     2 TB fresh chopped parsley 

Serve and garnish each bowl with some parsley sprigs.

*The original recipe calls for some of the soup to be pureed at the end, but my family (as well as the dinner group ladies) liked the texture and taste of the soup without pureeing.  I also think it looks better as is.  Go ahead and puree if you'd like, but it's not necessary.