Vegetarian Lentil Soup

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I think there are two categories of people, those who like and appreciate soup, and those who don’t. I am certainly in the former, while Andrew is in the latter. Unfortunately for me, this means I don’t make it very often. Since I travel for work and am away from home during the week, I know anything soupy (even chili!) will probably not get eaten. Since the winter has started and is now in full force in New England, I decided that I was going to indulge my cravings for a bowl of steamy deliciousness, and that I could just freeze any that I wasn’t able to eat over the weekend.

This lentil soup is the perfect way to use up any vegetables you have in your fridge, while also getting a ton of fiber and protein. I happened to have carrots and cooked lentils on hand from my carrot salad, so this was a cinch to put together. I’ve also included amounts and instructions for those of you starting with dried lentils. I think adding some meat, like sausage or diced ham, would be great here, but I decided to stay vegetarian on this one.

In a large, heavy bottom pan, over medium heat, add 4 cloves of garlic with the skins still on. We want the deep, toasty flavor of roasted garlic, but we don’t want to pre-heat the oven and wait an hour. I’m all about instant gratification.

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Toast the garlic until the skins become brown and the garlic becomes tender, it will take about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dice the carrots, onion, and celery. Remove the garlic from the heat.

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In the pot, add in the olive oil and the diced veggies and stir to coat in the oil.

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Now, remove the garlic from their skins. I found a delicate hand easily got the garlic from the skin, but if you’re having trouble, smash the garlic with the back of a knife. This will release the garlic much more easily. It’s okay if you’re left with garlic paste. Add the garlic to the pot and stir to distribute evenly. If you’re using dried lentils, add 2 cups to the pot now. Now add in the bay leaves and thyme.

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Now add in the vegetable broth. If you’re using dried lentils, you’ll need 2 quarts instead of 1 1/2.

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Let it heat up for a bit and give it a taste. Mine was extremely under seasoned and bland at this point, so I added salt in 1/4 teaspoon increments. I was satisfied at around 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, though it will vary depending on your personal taste and the level of salt in your broth. I also added in about 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper. If you’re using cooked lentils, stir them in now. Cover the soup and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

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The soup will thicken very nicely if you started with dried lentils, as they will have absorbed some of the broth. However, the pre-cooked lentils won’t allow the soup to thicken quite as much. Depending on your personal preference you can eat it now, or you can get in there with an immersion blender. I blended for a few seconds, but wanted most of the lentils to stay whole.

Enjoy this soup as-is, with a heaping mound of cheese, or with some crispy, crunchy croutons.

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Adapted from: Dinner was Delicious

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 1/4 cups cooked lentils (or 2 cups dried lentils)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth (2 quarts if using dried lentils)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In a large, heavy bottom pan, over medium heat, add 4 cloves of garlic with the skins still on. Toast the garlic until the skins become brown and the garlic becomes tender, it will take about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, dice the carrots, onion, and celery.

Remove the garlic from the heat.

Add the olive oil to the pot, then the diced veggies and stir to coat in the oil. Remove the garlic from their skins, and stir into the pot. If using dried lentils, add to the pot now. Stir in the bay leaves and thyme.

Now add in the vegetable broth. If using dried lentils, you’ll need 8 cups (or 2 quarts) rather than 6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If using pre-cooked lentils, stir them in now.

Cover the soup and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Optionally, use an immersion blender to thicken the soup.

Enjoy with whatever soup toppers you like!


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