I'm not sure how long ago it was that I started preparing lentils? After all, we are traditionally a pinto beans kind of family. I believe that I was originally attracted to cooking with lentils because of the short cooking time when compared to other bean varieties. This highly versatile recipe is great for warming up on a chilly day! Click "Read More" for the details...
Hearty Lentil Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil or (optional chicken fat)
1-2 medium onions diced
2-3 medium freshly-peeled and sliced carrots
2-3 cloves sliced fresh garlic
1 medium bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small head of cabbage
1 cup stewed or fresh tomatoes (optional)
2 medium peeled and diced potatoes (optional)
1tsp dried ground turmeric (optional)
1 bay leaf
2-3 tsp dried herbs (basil, rosemary, sage, thyme)*
1 lb dried lentils (rinsed)
Fresh water or broth (optional) to cover everything
Salt and freshly-millled black pepper to taste*
Cooking time: Approximately 1 hour to 90 minutes
Place the olive oil or chicken fat in a large stock pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots with a large pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Sautee' until the onions and carrots begin to caramelize just slightly. Add the garlic, bell pepper, celery, mushrooms, cabbage, and other optional vegetables. Add some fresh black pepper, turmeric, the bay leaf and herbs, and a bit more salt. Mix everything together in the pot thoroughly. Add the rinsed lentils, and enough water or broth to cover everything. Cover the pot and simmer on very low heat for about an hour. Yes, the lentils will be cooked and ready in about an hour. However, cooking them a bit longer will yield a much more rich and flavorful soup.
Serve with a garnish of grated cheese and a hunk of toasty sourdough bread! :)
*Be sure to check on the water level while the soup is cooking. The lentils will absorb most of the water within the first 30 minutes or so of cooking. Adjust accordingly and don't let them dry up.
*Perform the final adjustment for salt when the lentils are nearly cooked to your satisfacton.