Once I discovered to cook dinner, my first problem was to make a five-gallon pot of lentil soup. Sure, you heard that proper, 5 gallons!
I nonetheless chortle once I bear in mind standing over an enormous pot on an enormous restaurant range including one pinch of salt at a time when 1 / 4 of a cup or so would have been nearer to the mark. That lentil soup turned a vegetarian staple in our restaurant.
Since then, I’ve tweaked it with modifications to make it much more flavorful. Carrots and celery added to the combo, together with caramelized onions and tomato paste, deliver forth a good tastier bowl, which vegetarians and carnivores alike can relish with gusto.
To prime it off, I stir in some slivered kale on the finish to make a wholesome, comforting soup that everybody can take pleasure in.
I don’t make 5 gallons anymore, however I nonetheless prefer to make a giant pot of this soup after which tuck some away within the freezer for a chilly or wet evening.
It can hold for as much as 6 months. It’s like cash within the financial institution for these dreary fall and winter afternoons once I haven’t shopped and don’t have any intention of doing so.
WHAT ARE LENTILS?
They’re small legumes and vary in colour from brown to inexperienced, pink to yellow, and typically even black. Together with beans, peanuts, and peas, lentils develop in pods. They’re excessive in protein and scrumptious in soups, stews and on their very own in vegetarian and spicy Indian dishes, most famously, dal.
Which Lentils Are Finest for Lentil Soup?
I selected French inexperienced lentils, also referred to as le Puy, grown in a area of central France, for this recipe. They’re small and darkish—nearly purple in look—and maintain their form throughout cooking. In addition they take longer to cook dinner than different varieties.
For those who can’t discover French lentils, you’ll be able to substitute nearly some other selection. You will want to regulate the water and cooking time to realize the consistency you need, however that is an ‘eyeball it’ state of affairs—it’s not onerous!
Inexperienced lentils are my first substitution alternative. They’re massive and flat, and keep pretty agency when cooked. Simply cook dinner the soup lengthy sufficient to melt the lentils—verify it each 10 minutes or so after the 20-minute mark.
Brown, yellow, and pink lentils are a great subsequent alternative. They have a tendency to cook dinner shortly and don’t maintain their form significantly properly. For those who substitute Puy lentils with any of those, watch them carefully as they’ll simply flip to mush, and also you need some form and texture for this soup.
HOW TO PREP LENTILS FOR COOKING
For those who purchase lentils from a retailer bin, it’s a good suggestion to unfold them out on a tray and choose over them and discard any little stones or bits of grime that could possibly be current. If they appear dusty, rinse them in a colander. Packaged lentils are much less prone to comprise impurities, however there’s no draw back to checking them earlier than cooking.
You don’t must soak lentils earlier than cooking, however relying on the variability, they’ll take anyplace from 20 to 50 minutes to melt when simmered in liquid. They take up their cooking liquid, and many sorts double in dimension when cooked.
BEST FLAVOR BOOSTERS FOR VEGETARIAN SOUP
One of the best ways to create depth of taste for this vegetarian soup is to caramelize the onions, toast the tomato paste and add a great deal of carrots and celery.
- Caramelizing onions is solely a technique of browning them slowly within the pan. They ultimately shrink and develop into somewhat sticky and the sugar within the onions turns into extra pronounced. If the underside of the pan browns earlier than the onions are tender, add water, a tablespoon at a time to scrape up the brown bits—it quickly evaporates and helps colour and taste the onions.
- Toasting tomato paste within the pot is one other trick so as to add intense taste. It simply takes a couple of minutes of stirring till it turns darkish and ruddy.
- The ultimate trick is so as to add loads of carrots and celery. They’re the supporting actors and basically present the identical quantity of taste as vegetable inventory would.
YOUR FOOD PROCESSOR IS A TIME SAVER
Pulse the onions in a meals processor till they’re finely diced. When you begin cooking them, place chunks of carrots, celery, and garlic within the meals processor and pulse them collectively into small items.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS
Take into account freezing the soup in small one-portion containers so you’ll be able to pull it out at will, and use for mid-week lunches. It can hold for as much as six months within the freezer.