One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is cook and prepare meals for my family to enjoy. Actually let me say that is my second most favorite thing to do in the kitchen. The first thing would be eating and enjoying home cooked meals with my family. Over the years I have experimented with many different recipes and various cooking styles. Some have been failures, while others were just so so and the rest have usually become family favorites. They varied from my famous hot chicken wings, carrot-apple-honey bread, stuffed Italian turkey breasts, scallops ala bordelaise, and many many more.
Lately I have been experimenting with soups and stews.
I wanted to come up with a nice vegetarian soup that was high in nutrients and protein. This particular soup origination came from a trip to my local Trader Joes. While I was perusing the vegetable and salad aisle I came across a container of fresh ready to eat lentils.
I have never been a big fan of plain old lentil soup but I had recently read that lentils were high in protein and good for you. So I purchased the fresh ready to use lentils and began thinking about how to incorporate them into a hearty vegetable soup. This is all you need here:
I started the soup out with two liters of low sodium vegetable stock. Try to stick with low-sodium stocks and broths for your soup. Most of the regular versions have over 1000 mg of sodium per serving. That is a tremendous amount of salt and in my opinion cannot be too good for you. I would rather add salt to taste that way I can control my sodium intake. After heating up the vegetable stock I add a cup of cubed or sliced carrots and a cup of sliced celery. Trader Joes sells a convenient pack with pre-cubed carrots, celery and onions.
I then take an onion and basically puree it in my chopper. This is then added to the soup. I also add several bay leaves, pepper, cumin, tarragon, season-salt and sometimes some oregano. At this point I also take some finely chopped garlic (from the jar) and basil (also from a jar). Then I add a large can or cubed tomatoes to the mix. I recently was at tomato tasting event where I got to taste 6 different canned whole tomatoes right out of the can, like Hunts, San Marzano, Contadina, Tuttorosso, Muir Glen Organic and Rienzi. I have to tell you I wasn't impressed with most of them by the look. Most of them were not even whole and broken into pieces. Most tasted like a burnt tin. Yuk. Although the event was sponsored by Tuttorosso, my top 2 picks from the brands above is Muir Glen and Tuttorosso. They both taste very good on the similar level. While all of this is simmering I fry up some chopped mushrooms, onions, garlic and olive oil in a pan. At the same time in a different pot I boil about 7-8 tiny gourmet potatoes. I really like the purple and red ones. I also slice up some baby carrots and add them to the simmering soup. After the garlic, mushrooms and onions have browned nicely I add them to the soup as well.
This give the soup a nice added flavor and the cooked mushrooms are a very nice addition. At this point I am usually running out of room in the soup pot so I remove some of the liquid and transfer it to a smaller pot. Remember I have to make some room for the potatoes. After cooking the potatoes for about 15 minutes or so I take them out of the pots and slice them into small pieces. They are then ready to add to the soup. Now at this point I add the lentils to the soup stirring them around in the mix. Then the soup is reduced to a simmer and I let it sit for about 1 to 1.5 hours.
After this time I check the taste to see if it needs any more salt or pepper. It usually does so I add some little by little until it tastes just about right. Then it is ready to be served. This is a great hearty soup to enjoy on those cold winter days. It goes great with some fresh whole-wheat buttered bread and crackers. For a non-vegetarian version you can add pieces of cooked chicken to the soup before serving.
List of ingredients for Vegetable Lentil Soup
(feel free to increase or decrease amount to your taste):
1-cup of cubed or sliced celery
1-cup of cubed/diced carrots
1-cup of diced onions
1 large can of diced organic tomatoes
7-8 small gourmet potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (fresh or form the jar)
1 tablespoon of chopped basil (from the jar)
1 container of sliced mushrooms
1 medium sized white onion
3 cloves of garlic chopped
3-4 bay leaves
2 1 liter containers of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 container of cooked lentils (2 cups or so)
Pepper, season-salt, oregano, cumin, salt, tarragon etc… add to taste
Cooking time 1.5 to 2 hours.
Preparation time less than 30 minutes
If you liked this soup recipe, check out the Russian BorshSoup recipe.
Do you have a good source for lentils?
Please share in a comment below. Thanks and have a great week!