Ina’s Garden…Lentil Vegetable Soup

Comfort food…what does that mean to you?  To me, it means hearty casseroles, delicious one-pot stews, and my favorite, soup.  As it happened, one of my staff members had a birthday this month, and for her birthday lunch theme she chose soup and salad.  Perfect!  Our theme for Ina’s Garden was Cooking in Comfort, and as I said, soup and comfort go hand-in-hand.  

I scanned Ina’s recipes, and I was torn between her Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Lentil Vegetable Soup, but since I had recently made a squash recipe, I decided to make the lentil.  Be warned, there are many ingredients, lots of dicing and slicing, but it is all worth the effort.  The soup is perfect. 

Be sure to use the red wine vinegar before serving.  I was a little hesitant, so I tasted the soup, noticed a little flatness, and decided to be brave.  I added the vinegar, and voila!  The soup became multi-dimensional, with every flavor enhanced by the acidity.  When I sprinkled on some freshly grated Romano, the flavors hit their crescendo.  Everyone at work loved the soup, especially the birthday girl…
  • 1 pound French green lentils (I used brown)
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 2 leeks, sliced, white part only
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (I didn’t add this at the end)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 stalks celery, diced 
  • 4-6 carrots, diced 
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Romano)

In a large soup or stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are translucent and very tender.
Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock, and add the tomato paste, and lentils.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through.
Check the seasonings.
Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan or Romano.

All of the Ina’s Garden hosts – April at The 21st Century Housewife, Chaya at Bizzy B. Bakes, Yummy Chunklet at Yummychunklet, Mia at Bright Morning Star, and yours truly – hope all of you will join us for our Cooking in Comfort linky party – choose your favorite Ina comfort dish and share your experience with us!  How easy is that?  If you can’t cook along with us this go round, please join us on October 6, when you can link up a Fall Family Favorite, Barefoot Contessa-style.

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