Tuesday, February 08, 2011

MLLA 32: French-Style Lentil Soup

French-Style Lentil Soup

Lentilles Verte du Puy
One of the goodies I brought back from Paris for the Vegetarian and me to enjoy was a box of French green lentils, an AOC-protected variety that many consider to be the best lentils in the world. Blue-green when uncooked, they are quite beautiful and certainly not "peasant food." I often think of lentils as a winter food and, with all the snow we've been having in New York, a lentil soup was exactly what we've been craving.

As I slowly adapt myself to a (mostly) vegetarian diet, I have a new-found appreciation for legumes. High in protein, they're an excellent main dish and alternative to tofuLentils are probably my favorite variety. One such reason is simply time commitment--unlike most legumes, lentils don't need to be soaked. They can just be rinsed, sorted (to make sure no small stones sneaked in) and cooked. They also only need about 45 minutes to cook, unlike many beans which require several hours. This all means that I can still get dinner on the table, even when I come home late and don't plan ahead.

Because I used French lentils, I decided to make the flavorings of this soup reflect French cuisine as well. Wanting a meal that really stuck to our ribs (and knowing the Vegetarian craves starches as much as I do protein), we had this over Mashed Celery Potatoes. Not traditional, I know, but delicious all the same.

And, because this is a legume dish, it's my first entry into the 32nd installment of My Legume Love Affair. Enjoy!

French-Style Lentil Soup
adapted from a recipe for French Lentil Soup from Epicurious and one for Egyptian-Style Lentil Soup from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.
  • 1 red onion, sliced into very thin rings
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 baby carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I recommend Imagine Organic Vegetable Broth)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon French sea salt
  • 1 lemon, quartered
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place red onion in a pie plate and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover tightly with tin foil and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add yellow 
Simmering Lentil Soup
onions, carrots, celery, garlic, cumin and fennel seeds, reduce heat to medium-low and saute until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add vegetable broth, water, lentils, tomatoes, kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil then lower heat immediately, cover partially, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until lentils are very tender and the broth has thickened.

Remove from heat, stir in reserved red onion and its olive oil, as well as balsamic vinegar. Season with French sea salt and additional 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Serve, over mashed celery potatoes if desired, with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Update: check out Sandhya's beautiful round-up and congratulations to all the winners!

Links to other French Lentil Soup noshes:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This recipe is outstanding! I followed your link from Epicurious and your version is fantastic. I always always always have to modify and this time I didn't change a thing (though I pureed a bit). Thank you so much!