I knew I was in trouble Sunday night. I had every blanket in the house heaped on me, I'd jacked the thermostat up to 75 degrees, I was wearing flannel pajamas, and still I was shivering, freezing cold despite my best efforts. I've recovered after two days at home with multiple mugs of TheraFlu, lots of sleep, and a little light reading.
What to do the night before returning to work? Make a big pot-o-lentil soup, of course.
This is the soup I wish I'd had in the freezer, ready to be reheated and enjoyed when I caught this nasty cold + fever + chills thing. Hearty and flavorful, I find this earthy soup very comforting. It smacks of all that is right with rustic peasant fare. A few basic ingredients combine to create a dish that warms the body and soul on a cold afternoon. The best part — it tastes even better the next day, when the ingredients have a chance to meld.
As always, use only high quality ingredients; old veggies make for a lackluster soup. I used both homemade vegetable stock and water in this batch, but chicken stock works well. A sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley and a good crusty bread are the only garnishes required. Don't forget to drizzle a few teaspoons of red wine vinegar in at the end to brighten the flavor.
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 1/2 cups French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 28 oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained and diced
2 quarts vegetable broth, chicken stock, or water
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
a few teaspoons red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over a medium-low flame. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly, until softened but not browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add a pinch of Kosher salt, stir, and add carrots and celery. Cook another 3-4 minutes. Add the green lentils, diced tomatoes and broth, stock or water. Cook until the lentils are cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few teaspoons of red wine vinegar. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.