Lentil Soup – Base Recipe with variations
I would like to teach you how to make your own favorite lentil soup recipe by giving you a base recipe with some variations. Let’s get started.
First, make a standard flavor base: a Mirepoix.
Dice carrots, celery, and onion. The ratio is done by weight, 2 parts onions, 1 part carrot and one part celery. To make 4 servings, this will be about 2 small carrots, 2 ribs of celery (most people call them stalks, although a stalk of celery is actually the entire bunch), and a medium to large onion.
Over medium-low heat, sauté the mirepoix in 2-4 tablespoons of the fat of your choice (coconut oil, olive oil, butter or bacon fat) until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add a minced clove of garlic, a bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and a teaspoon of dried oregano. Then add about 6 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups well-rinsed and sorted lentils. You can also add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes – plain, fire roasted or with basil. It is your choice, make this your own recipe!* Simmer an hour.
When the soup is done, I like to add about 1/4 cup chopped parsley and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice (juice of 1/2 half lemon). If you don’t like the lemon flavor, add vinegar. This adds depth and brightness to the soup. The parsley adds vital nutrients. A couple tablespoons of butter will add a nice touch of flavor. I also like to add frozen spinach or kale at this point. It cools the soup quickly to a palatable level and adds more vegetables and flavor to the soup. Personally, I add enough spinach or kale to mine that it’s about half soup and half vegetables. When my daughter was younger we had the frozen spinach at the table and each added the amount they wanted. We did this for most soups. It was just a habit in our house. Vegetarians may want to add rice to the base soup recipe – or replace some of the lentils with rice. This completes the protein profile.
If you used bacon fat to saute your vegetables at the beginning, feel free to garnish with some bacon when serving. Otherwise, a little sprinkling of cheese adds a touch of color and flavor.
This is a base recipe. I typed it off the top of my head from years of experience. Play with the flavors to suit the taste of your family. Add more lentils if you like it thicker. Mix the lentils for a different texture. The pink ones turn to mush in about 20 minutes. The french green or brown lentils take 45 minutes to an hour to cook through. So by mixing the pink lentils with the green or brown, you end up with a thicker soup. This eliminates the necessity of “blend half the soup in a blender” that most recipes for thick lentil soup instruct you to do. This saves time and dishes – and the possibility of burning yourself or making a mess.
I hope you enjoy lentil soup. We eat it often. It is healthy and inexpensive.
*I like to take a moment to think if something will taste good together. If I used bacon fat to saute the mire poix, I’d never add tomatoes. To me, that’s just Ew! If adding tomatoes and basil, I’d use olive oil. Personally, I use butter and no tomatoes. That’s my favorite way.
I want to thank my dad for teaching me how to “create” recipes. He’d stand at the stove, look at what he had for a base in ingredients, look at the spice rack, then he’d get a twinkle in his blue eyes and start creating. My mom taught me how to follow a recipe, but my dad taught me to analyze how flavors go together using the flavor memories stored in his/my head. This is the same technique used in the famous restaurant, Alinea – although they also use techniques that far surpass anything we would have attempted at home.