Soup’s On

I know it is June and most people aren’t thinking of soup this time of year. We had a couple of really cool days last week where the thermometer struggled to reach 60, so I was thinking soup. And you can’t beat it for a quick, make-ahead meal. If you are currently sweltering where you are and can’t stand the idea of soup, file this one away for fall and check out a recipe for chicken salad or ice cream.

My parents were (very nicely!) coming over one day last week to help me fix the back screen door. It was one of those projects that had been hanging over our heads for months, since the wind caught the screen and ripped the door closer right off the door, taking part of the metal with it. After several months of having to remember to pull the door closed after us, we bought a new closer and asked my dad how to deal with the stripped out holes. Typical of my dad, he offered not only advice, but also the hands-on skills to get the job done. The least I could do was to provide lunch.

I wanted to have lunch all ready to eat when they arrived, but I didn’t want to have to fuss with it, or to worry about it burning if the door repair took longer than we planned. And I wanted more than sandwiches and chips. I settled on soup that I made early in the morning and kept in the crockpot on low until time for lunch. Seems like I have been seeing lentil recipes all over the place lately, so I bought a bag of lentils and used what I had in the fridge to make my own recipe.

Whether you need soup to warm your bones, pay back a favor, or just to fill your hungry belly, try this one, or another soup recipe and prepare yourself to be amazed at how easy homemade soup can be.


Easy Lentil Soup
from The Cook’s Life
Serves 6, easy to double

I used chicken broth, but vegetable broth would be delicious too. Make sure you like the taste of whatever broth you use.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot or 1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
1-2 tomatoes
2 sun-dried tomatoes
3-4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable), low sodium preferred
¾ cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained

Heat olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat while you chop the shallot or onion. Add shallot to hot oil and stir briefly. Lower the heat to medium low and let cook while you mince the garlic and chop the carrots and celery into ¼ inch pieces. You don’t want big chunks in this soup, just small pieces of carrot and celery.

Add the garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium and allow vegetables to cook while you chop the tomatoes. They will cook down, so you don’t have to really worry about getting even pieces. Dice the sun-dried tomatoes into ¼ inch pieces.

When the carrots and celery have softened somewhat, add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, broth, lentils and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, so the soup is just simmering, not boiling furiously. Cover the pan and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the carrots, celery and lentils are tender. Taste the soup and add salt if necessary.

At this point you can transfer the soup to a crockpot set on low for a couple of hours (up to four), or you can cook on the stovetop for another 30 minutes or so. This will allow the lentils to thicken and enrich the broth a little more. I tasted mine after the lentils were first tender and it was missing something. But after about two hours in the crockpot it had a richer flavor and was so much better.

You could also make the recipe through sautéing the garlic, carrots and celery. Once the vegetables are somewhat softened, transfer them to a crockpot, add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, broth, lentils and pepper and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until all the vegetables are tender and the broth is thickened somewhat. Taste for salt before serving.

Reheats well. Add a little water and reheat in the microwave or on the stove over low heat.

Download recipe here.