Sunday, as I promised, the early evening was spent trying to recreate the most delicious Lentil Soup I’ve ever had in my own little kitchen. If you missed the post where I mentioned this first, this soup is inspired by a particularly delicious Family Meal that I had a few weeks ago. That soup was hearty, rich, aromatic and filling – and though it was vegetarian, it didn’t feel like it was lacking anything. Let’s just say I was not the only employee hounding the cook who made it for the recipe by the end of the night.
After my shifts this weekend, and after a solid recovery that consisted of eleven hours of sleep and one steamy slice of New York-style thin crust pizza, I set off to gather the ingredients for this epic soup. And though I had to settle for store-bought stock, super-olivey-oil, and a smaller variety of aromatics, I have to say – it came out pretty darn great! My lentil soup has the same thick consistency and hearty, earthy nature of the “inspiration soup” – and though I mixed up the spices from the original, the addition of cayenne gives an extra kick of heat that really suits this soup well. Soups are meant to be spicy, if you ask me!
Best part? Like the original, this soup is completely vegetarian (okay, we’re not counting the chicken stock – but you could use Veg stock too), and loaded with vegetables and healthy fiber. Oh, and did you know that lentils are a great source of protein? Yep, there are 12 grams in just one 1/4 cup serving, making it ideal for those who are cutting back on meat. Who says lentil soup needs that giant gnarly ham-hock in there? Not me! You’ve gotta give this a whirl.
Vegetarian Lentil Soup - Makes 8 – 10 ounce servings
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 large onions, finely chopped
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 1/2 of a large bulb of Fennel (about 6 oz), diced
- 5 – 6 medium celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 – 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano preferred), solid tomatoes separated from juices
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 3 cups of water
- 2 cups of dried green lentils
- 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper
1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, celery and garlic (mirepoix), and stir to coat. Cover the pot and let vegetables sweat over low heat for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until soft, stirring every five minutes. Be sure to keep the heat low so that the mirepoix just sweats, and does not brown.
2. Once the mirepoix has softened, add the solid crushed tomatoes and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, for about a minute, until the tomatoes have caramelized slightly.
3. Next, add the oregano, bay leaves, cumin, cayenne, and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, water, and lentils and stir. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
4. Once the lentils are cooked, pour off about half of the soup and reserve. Using a standing or immersion blender, puree half of the soup until thick and smooth. As you are pureeing, slowly stream in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until completely incorporated, or emulsified (this helps give the soup body).
5. Combine the pureed soup with the rest of the soup, and stir. Add balsamic vinegar to taste (1/2 tablespoon recommended). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, particularly with multi-grain pita chips!
Nutrition Stats: Per serving (1/8 of total batch) – 250 calories, 5 grams of fat, 10.3 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein
What are your favorite vegetarian eats?