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Lentil Soup, or I Finally Got It Right

Posted in Day-to-Day by unboundpage on January 17, 2013

All the lentil soup recipes I’ve seen look about the same, and seem simple enough, yet the last time I made it, I somehow managed to get it terribly, terribly wrong.  The only way to salvage it was with copious amounts of Worcestershire sauce, and even then, it was a mushy, salty mess.  So tonight I focused on the savory.  (And following the cooking directions, which, shockingly, also helped a good bit.)

I think it goes without saying that this will not be a vegetarian recipe.  It is, however, gluten free!

The standard recipe calls for a pretty tame list of ingredients:

2 strips bacon
1 whole onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth or water
1 lb dry, rinsed lentils

Seasonings vary, but I most commonly saw 1 tsp Italian herbs, black pepper and salt to taste.  As this clearly didn’t do the trick for me last time, I added some more interesting flavors.

My adjusted recipe:

6 strips bacon
1 whole onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
8 cups chicken broth or beef broth or vegetable broth* (y’know… whatever you have on hand – just not water)
1 lb dry, rinsed lentils
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce*
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp rosemary
1 tbsp Italian herbs (specifically tarragon, marjoram, oregano, basil, sage – heavy on the basil)
black pepper

  • Fry bacon and set aside, crumbled.
  • Heat 2 tbsp (or… uh… more) of bacon fat in soup pot over medium high heat for two minutes.
  • Add onions and garlic, and stir-fry until onions start to turn transparent.
  • Add carrots and celery, and continue to stir-fry until onions are golden brown.
  • Add tomatoes and juice, broth, lentils, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, mustard, rosemary, and the crumbled bacon.
  • Bring the mixture to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until lentils are tender.  (This part is important! Lentils are not split peas – don’t aim for mush!)
  • Stir in Italian herbs, add pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy some damned tasty soup.  Refrigerates and freezes well too.

*Hey, where’d the salt go?  You really shouldn’t need any more salt after the broth, bacon, and Worcestershire sauce.  In fact, I highly recommend low sodium broth and Worcestershire sauce because, seriously, that’s a lot of bacon.  If you’re really serious about reducing salt, use less bacon, use only vegetable broth, and substitute Balsamic vinegar for the Worcestershire sauce.

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