Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lentil Soup - for all seasons

 I made this soup the other day because I needed a quick and easy soup.  Even though it is hardly "hearty soup season",  it was still so delicious and so worth sharing.  Please don't wait till fall to give this one a try!

This recipe was passed on from my mother in-law and I "tweaked" it ever so slightly to suite my cooking style.

Lentil Soup

1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium onion - chopped finely
1 clove garlic
2 stalks celery - chopped finely
2 carrots - chopped finely
1 red pepper (or any color of your choosing) - chopped finely
1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 cups chicken broth or stock *
2 Bay leaves
1/2 lemon - juiced (about 2 Tbsp)*
1/2 cup fresh cilantro - chopped finely

In a 4 quart pot, heat the oil and add the onions.  Saute the onions for a few minutes.  Add the garlic, celery, carrots and pepper.  Continue to saute for about 5 minutes - or more.  This process of "sweating" the veggies brings out a richer flavour providing you are not burning the veggies.  Add the seasonings and lentils.  Stir for a minute to infuse the flavours. 

Add the stock and bay leaves and bring the soup to a boil.  Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and allow it to simmer for  20 - 30 minutes.  If you have the time, I would suggest simmering for a longer period (like 2 hours).

Just before serving, add in the lemon juice, cilantro and remove the bay leaves. We  like this soup served both hot and cold.  Try it and see what you prefer.

Cook's notes:
Finely chopped vegetables: My preference in a soup like this is to have all the veggies similar in size and in this case, that is dictated by the smaller lentil size.  They do not have to be tiny, but I prefer to cut my carrots in 4strips and then slice them to get quarter pieces rather than round coins.  You get the idea.

Chicken Broth: There is a chicken broth I found that is made without any sugars - yes, most chicken broth has added sugar. The problem for me is it is quite a bit more expensive so I opt for a cheaper, organic one that does have a bit of organic sugar.  A choice dictated by cost.  I do make my own stock as well without any sugars, but I typically save that process for fall/winter.  The store brand I like now is Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Broth purchased at Costco.

Stock vs Broth: Stock is made using bones and broth uses only meat.  Stock is usually "jelly-like" from the bone.  Either one are fine for soup but I would expect the stock has a deeper, richer flavour.  Maybe I will have to make my own to compare one day.
About the 5 cups...Most store-sold broths are 4 cups so this technically means opening two and having leftover broth.  So options are to add 4 cups broth and 1 cup water or you could try 1 cup apple juice in place of the water idea as well.  If you open the second carton of broth, consider freezing it for later use - just be sure to measure it and label the amount so you know exactly how much you have.

Lemon:  It may seem quite strange to add lemon juice at the end but I am learning that lemon juice "brightens" the flavour of many foods, including this soup.  I have left it out and thought it was fine but then added it in and wow!  I will add it from now on.   A"seasoned" chef once told me real lemon juice does not come out of a bottle.  Fresh really is best.


  1. This has a Southeast Asia flair. It reminds me of Dhal, without the heavy turmeric added. I can't wait to try it. Fall is my favourite soup month!

  2. I'm defintely going to try this one! I always have a 1/4 container of broth in my fridge during the winter-now I will freeze it!