Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rainy Day Lentil Soup

We've been having quite the storm in California over the past week. When it's gloomy outside, it always seems nice to cozy up with a big bowl of soup. Even if you don't think you like lentil soup, try this one out - it's full of flavor. There is a great balance between the french lentils, tomatoes, vegetables, red wine, and a hit of balsamic vinegar at the end. I also recommend topping it with some shaved or grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, which gives it an extra something. Serve with a crusty bread and let it warm you up during this wet spring weather!

Rainy Day Lentil Soup
Serves 4

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 c. dried french green lentils, rinsed
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, chopped
2 leeks, white & light green parts, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 T. tomato paste
1 c. dry red wine (I used a Côtes du Rhône)
1 bunch thyme
2 dried or 1 fresh bay leaf
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
1 c. water
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Chop the onions, leeks and garlic. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, garlic, 1/2 t. kosher salt, and 1/4 t. pepper and saute for about 10 minutes, breaking up the leeks with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, chop the celery and carrots. Add them to the pot and saute for an additional 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook another minute, stirring. Add the red wine and stir, then the diced tomatoes and their juices, vegetable stock and water. Also add the bay leaves and bunch of thyme to the pot (you will remove these before serving) and 1 t. kosher salt and another 1/4 t. pepper. Cover and bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked (they will still have a slight bite to them, similar to al dente pasta).

Remove the bay leaves and bunch of thyme with tongs. Stir in 2 T. balsamic vinegar and check for seasoning. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and top with freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese.

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