Smoky Lentil Soup
A steaming hot bowl of soup on a chilly day in fall or winter…that is one of the things I truly crave this time of year. It is comforting and satisfying without having too much food. Served with a salad and a nice loaf of crusty bread, there is almost nothing more nourishing to your body or soul.
I came across this Smoky Lentil Soup recipe after purchasing a snazzy new blender that also makes soup. Yes, it is true. However, I chose to make this very enjoyable soup the old-fashioned way and prepared it in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven on the stove.
The Red Chief Lentils cooked quickly in the broth. This particular brand, Zürsun, is sustainably grown on small farms in Idaho’s Snake River Canyon. Combined with diced tomatoes, other seasonings and just the right amount of smoky paprika, this soup was beautiful topped with chopped bacon and sour cream as a garnish. I used Pimentón, which is a Spanish smoked paprika. It is smoky, but with a hint of sweetness.
Mr. B has not been a big fan of lentils, but I think I have changed his mind after this soup. He loved the smokiness of the soup. It added a nice touch and complimented the other flavors.
Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber and I hope to include them more often in our meals as we try to move away from eating quite so much meat. You could also use vegetarian stock in this soup. As always, I recommend using homemade stock or broth whenever possible. It brings more depth of flavor and a different dimension to any dish.
Smoky Lentil Soup
3 thick-cut bacon slices (I used organic)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used Pimenton, a Spanish smoked paprika)
1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup Red Chief lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth (homemade or use Swanson's Organic Chicken Broth)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Sour cream for garnish (I use low-fat sour cream)
1. Preheat a griddle or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Chop the bacon coarsely.
2. In a medium-size Dutch Oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, tomato paste and paprika. Stir well. Turn the heat to low (as low as possible). Cover and cook on low until the vegetables just start to soften, about 25 minutes, opening the lid occasionally to stir. (* If your burner gets too hot, you may want to use a simmer plate. You do not want the vegetables to scorch.). Add the tomatoes, lentils and broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered until the lentils are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with sour cream and the bacon.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchens