The weather outside unabashedly screams “winter is coming!” One of the best cures for such frigid temperatures is a warm bowl of healthy, flavorful soup. Soup does not have to come from a can, it does not have to be bland, and it does not have to be unhealthy. From a young age, wintertime sometimes meant substituting tomato sauce Sundays for soup Sundays. My Dad would bring out the large pot and make the most massive batch of soup to fill at least five containers in the freezer.
Lentil soup is my absolute favorite from childhood. These odd, circular grains make their own rich broth when boiled in water. Lentils go from being rock hard to being soft and fully cooked in just a few hours. Food can be so miraculous! *Nerd alert, sorry I’m not sorry.*
Lentils mix extremely well with the classic “mirepoix” combination of carrots, celery, and onion. Add canned diced tomatoes, some bouillon cubes, and flavorful meat, and you have a rock star soup to warm you up and cure the winter sniffles.
- 1 pound package of lentils (I usually use green or brown, but feel free to try red or black and read the cooking instructions)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 5 carrots, diced
- 5 celery stalks, chopped
- 3-4 small onions, chopped
- 4 chicken bouillon cubes
- salt, pepper, dry parsley, and garlic powder to taste
- Optional, but tasty: Add a pound of cubed, smoked ham, smoked sausage, or kielbasa
1. Spread lentils out on a plate or flat surface and check for stones. Stones will usually be gray in color and look much more shriveled than the ordinary lentil. Use your best judgement. If one “lentil” does not look like the others, put that one aside.
2. Put the lentils in a large pot with about 16 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
3. While the lentils cook, chop the carrots, celery, and onions. Saute these in a pan with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add the can of diced tomatoes, the veggies, the bouillon cubes, and a little more of the salt, pepper, garlic powder and dry parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes.
5. While that cooks, you can begin preparing your optional meat. If you use cooked meat, you can simply add that in after the 30 minutes are complete. If the meat is raw, you’ll need to saute that before adding it to the soup. If I use kielbasa that’s already cooked, I will dice that and saute it until it caramelizes. Nothing better.
6. Add your meat and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
That’s it! Serve this on top of a soup pasta and add a little grated pecorino romano cheese on top. I personally like to have pasta on the side and eat the soup as is. I’m a “soup purist.” My Dad will tell you to put pasta in the soup. You decide!