Hello Fall! The new season has brought a lot of new beginnings for me — a new job, a new decade of life, and lots of new opportunities. I hope that you are settling into a productive and happy end of the year as well!
One of the best things about the weather turning is the comforting and homey foods that start appearing everywhere you look. Warm spices, roasted squash and hearty soups come back from their summer vacation ready to please.
And one of the favorite cool-weather pleasers at Kitchen Gusto is this lentil soup. I make this over and over throughout the winter and it never disappoints. And the best part is that this soup is healthy as well as comforting. The recipe is slightly adapted from one I came across in Cooking Light Magazine years ago. It’s low in fat and contains a lot of vegetables. Without the ham and substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock, this even works well as a vegetarian dish.
Green lentils (also called “French” or “de Puy” lentils) can be hard to find, but they work best with this soup. They hold their shape and don’t become as mushy as regular brown lentils do when cooked. If you can’t find them near you,there’s always the neighborhood Amazon selection of lentils.
Brown lentils will work if it’s what you have, just don’t blend the soup to keep some texture. Or blend part of it and add a bit more water to reach the consistency you like.
Happy and healthy Fall! For other healthy posts (I have to balance out all the baking and desserts with something!) check out these:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 to 7 oz (198 g) ham, diced
- 2½ cups chopped onion (preferably a sweet onion)
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup carrot, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 cups (300 g) dried green lentils
- 4 cups (946 ml) chicken broth or stock
- 1 cup (237 ml) water
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Before you start cooking the soup, make sure that you’ve chopped all your vegetables, and measured out your other ingredients. Proper mise-en-place (i.e. preparation) makes the making of this soup much more enjoyable.
- Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the ham for a few minutes until it begins to brown. Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, garlic and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid given off by the vegetables is almost completely evaporated. This will take 10-12 minutes.
- Add the lentils and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring the whole time to make sure nothing burns/browns. (Turn down the heat if you need to keep things from browning.)
- Add the chicken broth, water, and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
- Cook for 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Fish out the bay leaf and discard it.
- Once the soup is cooked, you can blend (either in blender or with a hand-held stick blender) a third to half of the soup if you like to give the soup some body and enhance the texture. This is, however, optional. If you do blend a portion of the soup, re-combine it with the rest of the soup after blending.
- Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice before serving, adjusting the levels to your taste.