Thursday, February 7, 2013

Recipe Rave Review: French Lentil Soup

During the chilliest parts of this winter, I went on a soup-making binge. We literally ate soup for a week or more straight. I strived to make delicious, healthy, homemade soups and found that this recipe for French Lentil Soup stood out above the rest. As a soft-core vegetarian I struggle with making meals loaded with all the nutrients and protein I need, so lentil soup is something I love to make often. However, this recipe was such a lovely variation in taste and texture that I HAD to blog about it.

I bought these red split lentils on a whim, with my love of lentil soup in mind, and it was the fact that they were split that made the soup extra creamy. Whole lentils still have that thin little 'skin' on them, which make a lentil soup more on the broth-y side... but this soup was more like split pea consistency (I think you can understand why).

Look at those beauties! 
First things first, every good soup starts with a mirepoix - onions, carrots and celery. I also always add more garlic than a recipe usually calls for. In fact, I don't think this recipe called for any. We are garlic-aholics.

Once that cooked down, it was time to add canned tomatoes and liquids. As I said, I'm a soft-core vegetarian (Em is the soft-core vegan) so I like to use meat stocks in cooking to give it a richer flavor, however it certainly is not necessary. For this I used a combo of veggie and chicken stock. Normally, I like to make my own veggie stock by saving up all the 'unusable' bits of vegetables (like mushroom stems or broccoli stalks) cut up for other meals, and then boiling it all down and straining it adding some seasonings along the way. It's so easy to make, but obviously I had none of that on hand for this, though!

Simmering away, and steaming up my camera lens! Love the color.
The recipe said to blend the mixture, and I did hit it with a hand blender quickly but it didn't need much because of the split lentils. I did want some chunks still. Finally, the piece de resistance - a splash of balsamic vinegar! I got pretty heavy handed with this, and was afraid I'd ruined the soup, but it turned out to be the best part! It really was what made this soup so amazing.

Would I have preferred $50/oz REAL balsamic from Italy? Sure. But Costco brand will do.
Finally it was time to enjoy! Even when I cook for just TH and I, I try to add at least some kind of garnish. In this case I saved the leaves from the celery stalks. These have such great flavor and are a great addition to any recipe - they are especially tasty in salads!

It was a huge hit! I still have some leftover lentils and feel like it's time to re-make this again. Try this unique version of lentil soup and let us know how you like it, or what changes you make!

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