Hearty Lentil Soup
The earthy flavor of these protein-packed legumes shines in this basic rendition of lentil soup. Make sure to see the variations listed below the recipe. This is perfect as a soup centerpiece, served with crusty bread or fresh cornbread, and any kind of salad you enjoy.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 6 cups water
- 1 large or 2 medium potatoes or 1 medium sweet potato,
scrubbed and diced (peel only if you want to)
- 1 1/4 cups dried green or brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon salt-free all-purpose seasoning blend
(like Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 15- to 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or cilantro, plus more, to finish
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Add the water, potatoes, lentils, seasoning blend, paprika, and bay leaves. Bring to a slow boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are nearly done, about 30 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and parsley or cilantro, and simmer for 15 minutes longer over very low heat, or until some of the lentils are completely mushy, while others still hold their shape.
Season with salt and pepper. If time allows, this soup benefits from allowing it to stand for an hour or so before serving to develop flavor. Just before serving, add a little more chopped parsley or cilantro, then heat through as needed.
Lentil-barley or lentil-rice soup: Add 1/3 cup pearl barley or brown rice when adding the lentils along with an additional cup of water, in place of the potato or sweet potato
Lentil soup with small noodles: In place of the potato or sweet potato, Cook 1 cup tiny shells or ditalini. Add to the soup with additional water as needed, and taste to correct seasonings.