Soup has to be one of the best foods on the planet. It's easy to prepare, warm, nourishing, and with a good salad and some bread makes for a completely satisfying meal. I started making some version of this lentil soup just after I graduated from college. It was mid-winter and I moved back home for a few months without much of a plan. My home town is very rural and I was the only twenty-two year old without a license which made for a very long and isolated winter. There was a lot of introspection, brooding, and cooking. One of my favorite memories from this time is sitting on our front porch surrounded by sun and snow, cupping a warm mug of this lentil soup.
Big Smith isn't a huge fan of any soup with tomatoes, which is kind of a bummer since there's so many great ones. Luckily he always goes for this lentil which seriously could not be more simple and is what I make at the end of the week when I'm low on groceries. It's very flexible, so you can add whatever you have in your own pantry and leave out anything you're missing... except for the lentils.
Simplest Lentil Soup:
- 4-5 medium carrots
- 4-l5 stalks of celery
- 3 small potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 cup lentils
- 4 cups of veggie stock or water (more as needed)
- handful of chopped parsley, cilantro, or any other fresh or dried herbs on hand
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 whole dried chili pepper (or 1/4 tsp crushed chili's)
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon juice (optional)
Peel and chop carrots and potatoes and trim and chop celery.
Chop onion and crush and mince garlic cloves.
Warm the oil in a large pot with a heavy bottom. Add the onions and garlic and saute about one minute until just softened. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes and saute for another few minutes just so everything starts to soften. Rinse and drain the lentils and add those, the dried chili pepper, herbs and spices to the pot.
Add the stock or water and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes until the lentils are tender. Stir the soup occasionally as it cooks and check to make sure there is enough liquid, adding more as needed.
Stir in the juice of one lemon. Remove the dried chili pepper before serving (unless you want to have a fun game of who gets a spicy surprise!). We enjoyed ours last night topped with a scoop of Greek yogurt and some more chopped cilantro.