Lentil Vegetable Soup
For heartiness and economy, you can’t beat this soup for feeding boys. Even the pricey organic French lentils cost only about four dollars for the 2 cups needed. And, unlike other long-simmering soups, this one cooks in under an hour. I like to keep this meatless, but you can easily sauté bacon or pancetta with the onions. Make it on a Saturday morning and keep it on the stove for everyone to eat on his or her own time throughout the day. Refrigerate for the next day’s lunch, too. Or, prepare it on a Sunday for Monday dinner—the flavor will only improve. Make a big batch of croutons to top it off, another “fill-up-the-stomach” technique for hungry males. For an entirely vegetarian version, use vegetable broth.
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (3/4 cup)
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped (2/3 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 small tomato, chopped (1/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups brown or green lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 4 cups water, plus more if needed
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Garlic Croutons, optional
- Heat a large soup pot over high heat and swirl in the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Reduce the heat to low and saute until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the lentils, thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Add the broth and water, and bring to a boil, skimming and discarding any foam as it rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. (The cooking time depends on the age of the dried lentils.) Stir in the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If needed, thin the soup with additional water or broth for the desired consistency. Serve in a bowl topped with fresh croutons, if using.
To prepare a vegetarian lentil soup, don't add meat and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.