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Delicious and Easy Lentil Soup (Vegan friendly)

Lentil soup has always been apart of my life. I have fond early memories of the warm aroma of cumin and lentils simmering away in either my mom's or my grandma Noni's kitchen.

When I finally finished my formal education, began my working career, and started cooking for myself, I was drawn back to some of my early favorite recipes. Fortunately, my mother has been diligently writing many of her recipes down and sharing them on her blog. It has been nice to have a list of recipes to work from as I go back in time and try to recreate the sights, smells, and tastes of my youth with Michelle. We have made some small changes to the recipes here and there as we adapt them to be our own. 

This lentil soup recipe is simple yet hearty. It is delicious and full of good nutrition. You can make it vegan, vegetarian, or add some good braising meat to it (like beef short ribs or pieces of beef chuck) if you want to make the flavor a bit richer. For this post, we will be keeping it vegetarian. 

Ingredients

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced, 
  • 1 pound green lentils
  • 1 leek, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup of parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • Cumin powder
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of butter (omit if making vegan)
  • Optional: 2 lbs of braised meat (i.e. beef short rib or beef chuck)

Directions

1. Prepping the Veggies

Carrots: wash and peel. Then dice them into about 1/4 inch pieces (or smaller if you prefer)

Celery: wash each of the stacks to remove any dirt and cut into similar sized 1/4 inch pieces

Onion: peel skin off, then dice into 1/4 inch pieces

Leek: First wash the leek. Then cut off the bottom part of it, as well as the dark green tops setting the tops aside (we are going to use them in the soup for their flavor). Cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly in between the layers. Mud and dirt from the field has a way of getting into these layers and we don't want it in our soup. 

Lentils: Pour the lentils into a strainer and give them a rinse, checking the lentils for stones or other foreign matter that may have gotten into the bag. 

2. Getting your saute on

Heat up some oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot (7-8 quarts). Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil (we use olive oil). If you want a little extra flavor, throw a tablespoon of butter in as well.

If you are going to add pieces of beef chuck or short ribs, this would be the time that you would want to brown each of the pieces in the pot making sure that they turn a nice color on all sides and leave behind some rendered fat and fond to flavor everything else. Once you've browned the meat, transfer the pieces to a bowl.

Once the oil is warmed up add your diced onion. The pot should be hot enough that that adding the onion instantly results in an audible sizzling sound. Sometimes I try adding one little test piece of onion to see if my oil/pot is hot enough yet.

Cook the onions over medium heat until the pieces starts to become translucent making sure that you don't burn them by stirring occasionally, this should be about 6 minutes. 

Add the carrots and celery allowing them to saute a bit (about 3 or 4 minutes) so they give more flavor to the pot and eventually the soup.

Add the lentils stirring them around the pot and mixing them up with the other veggies. The skins on the lentils should start to wilt a little bit. Allow the mixture to hang out in the pot for 2 minutes while you stir.

If you're going to include meat, you can add the browned meat and any juice that it was sitting on back into the pot now.

3. Making it a soup

Add filtered water to the pot. The amount you add is up to you, the less water you add, the thicker the soup will end up being. See the photos to get an idea of how much water to add. I like it a bit on the soupy side. My pot is an 8 qt stock pot. 

Add the leek leaves and root to the pot

Add the salt, a few dashes of powdered cumin seed, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. 

Let the pot get to a low boil and then turn down the heat to let it simmer

Simmer the soup for at least 1 hour to let the carrots soften. After that, any additional simmering is up to you. I don't let it go more that 4 or 5 hours though. 

Add your parsley as a garnish to each bowl when serving (optional)

This recipe freezes really well, and a 1-cup Souper Cube portion is really just the perfect amount for a nice healthy snack or for an appetizer for each person at your dinner party. 

Try this lentil soup at home this week and make sure to freeze some in your Souper Cubes trays for later. 


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