Lentil Soup – Base Recipe with variations
Creating Your Own Favorite Lentil Soup
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.
The Flavor Base
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 Cumin or oregano. Then add about 6-7 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 for 45 minutes. At this point I add a few tablespoons of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. This adds s depth of flavor often missing in vegetarian dishes. It also adds amino acids missing in vegetarian dishes. Simmer another 15 minutes.
When the soup is done, I like to add about 1/4 cup chopped parsley and a tablespoon of lemon juice. You won’t want to skip the lemon. You won’t taste it, only it’s acidic or “brightness” flavor. 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 Just before serving. 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 person 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 don’t use the Liquid Aminos.
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.
Altering the Recipe
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.
How to Pair Flavors
*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 cumin for the spice, butter and no tomatoes. That’s my favorite way.
Who Taught Me to Create?
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.