There is no better way to calm the holiday jitters than a big pot of lentil vegetable soup. I make sure I have enough to last for a few days whenever we need a bowl for quick hydration or a fast meal. This soup is full of honest goodness that I’ve never ended with just one bowl. So grab a large bowl and start from there.
In addition to providing a quick meal, the lentil soup is easy to put together because it uses several key provisions from the pantry. At least three dominant “helping-hand” pantry items make up the ingredient list: lentil, tomato paste and chicken stock. I say at least three, because the rest of the ingredients, though perishable, are items which can often be found in the pantry or the fridge. Things like onions, garlic, carrots, celery, cumin and parmesan cheese. It’s a time saver that you don’t need to go grocery shopping in order to prepare the soup. The fact that this recipe calls for ordinary every day items is a big plus and a time saver.
For the benefit of full disclosure: this soup does take time to bring it all together. There are a lot of vegetables to chop up. The soup also takes an hour to simmer and reduce. That’s the downside if you can’t carve out the time to complete this soup project, considering this is a very busy time of the year. I understand.
This recipe comes from Ina Garten. She lists the time requirement to be 2 hours and 5 minutes. That’s about right. She has also recorded a video on how to make the soup. Stressed for time, the short video allows you to skip reading the recipe all together!
I made one change to the recipe. Instead of using Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on the soup, I made a herb pistou, a pesto without the nuts, using the big bunch of Thai basil I have on hand together with Parmesan cheese. The pistou adds complexity and enhances the flavor immensely if time is not a constraint. I highly recommend that.
Have a tranquil, happy and delicious holiday!
- 1 pound French green lentils
- 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
- 4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
- 3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.