Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lentil Soup

I must admit, I love this soup so much that I have been known to make it even in the summertime, when it is over 90 degrees out, and my husband and I will still finish the entire batch!  There is just something so delicious about the tender, almost chewy meatiness of the lentils, combined with the hearty chunkiness of the carrots and onions.  It really is a thing of beauty.
I think what really makes this soup delicious is the addition of red-wine vinegar at the very end.  Do not skip this step!  The vinegar really brightens up the entire dish and makes all the other flavors sing.  It is such a simple soup, but so worth making.
This is one of those soups that I like to make when I have a little bit of extra time at home -- it freezes very nicely.  I like to top it off with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and sometimes even a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Lentil Soup (serves 4)
3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, halve lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8-10 minutes.  Add the onion and carrots, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the lentils and thyme, stirring until evenly mixed in with vegetables.  Add broth and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.  If the soup becomes too thick, add up to 1 more cup water.
Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
per serving: 346 calories, 4.3 grams fat, 26.1 grams protein, 54.1 grams carbohydrates, 24.7 grams fiber

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