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Mama’s Kitchen: Lentil Soup

best lentil soup recipe

“Soup is good food.” Campbell’s couldn’t say it any better – though, I could make it better! Soup is one of my favorite foods – it’s warm, delicious and immediately comforting. It’s also one of my favorite foods to make because I can make a large batch of it and freeze portions so that I have an easy meal in the near future. Add some warm bread, cheese, olives and salad and you have a perfect meal.

I know it’s summer, but Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It doesn’t always feel like winter during the summer, but when the fog rolls in, it’s definitely time for some blankets and soup. So, I know it’s crazy that I’m making soup in the summer – but not that crazy. One last thing about lentils, they are a great source of iron, so if you’re anemic or having your lady moments, it’s something you should definitely try to add to your diet.

1 pound bag of Lentils
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium onions – finely chopped
12 oz of peeled carrots – finely chopped
3 stalks of celery – finely chopped
1 large can of crushed tomatoes with puree
1/2 escarole – finely chopped

1. Pour the lentils onto a cutting board or flat surface. Go through and remove anything that is not a lentil, is a bad lentil, or doesn’t look like a lentil. Sometimes there are little twigs, stones or non-lentils in the bag. You don’t want to eat them so pick them out before you do anything.

2. Soak lentils in water (you can do this up to a day in advance). Most lentils come with an outer coating on them. I think the soup comes out better and less starchy if you remove the “skins.” While they are soaking, gather the lentils in hand-fulls and rub the lentils against each other. The rubbing will loosen and remove the skin. The skin will float to the top. Pour the water slowly out of the bowl – the skins will fall out first since they are at the top. When the water level gets low, refill with water and repeat the process until most of the lentil skins have been removed. If you want, you can skip this step, but I always do this part. Also, if you buy the lentils from an Indian grocery I believe they already come with the skins off – the little red lentils work fine for this recipe.

3. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Heat over medium heat and when the oil is hot add the onions. Saute the onions until transparent/slightly golden, or about 5-7 minutes.

sauteed onion

4. When the onion is slightly golden, add the carrots and celery. Stir and season with salt and pepper.

5. After a few minutes, add the can of crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. This happens really quickly astomatoes have a low boiling point so keep an eye on it!

6. When it comes to a boil, fill the pot 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil.

7. When the water is boiling, add the lentils. Simmer over medium heat until the lentils are soft and the soup reaches the right consistency (see photo). This usually takes anywhere between 1.25 hours to 2 hours. Keep an eye on the soup throughout and stir gently. You will notice that the soup gets thicker as you cook it – keep adding water to keep it at a “soupy” consistency.

lentil soup

8. When the soup is done, add the escarole, stir it into the soup and turn off the heat. Soup can be served immediately.

Tips & Tricks
* When I make this soup I have a 2nd large pot filled with water on the side and I bring it to a boil while I’m doing all the prep work. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat off. Wherever the recipe calls for adding water, use the water that you’ve already boiled to save on time bringing the soup up to a boil again.
* If your soup is took liquidy, cook it uncovered. If it’s too dry, add water and cover.
* This soup freezes really well. I put it in individual serving ziplocks. When you want to eat, defrost and reheat for a quick dinner!
* Pictured below you will find escarole. It’s a funny leafy vegetable and this is the only dish I know how to make with it. It’s the most difficult vegetable to bag because of it’s crazy shape but it’s very yummy.

That’s it. Buon Appetito!

lentil soup

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