Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I absolutely love soups. I can eat soup even when it's too hot outside for such fare. The only thing I don't love about soup is the recipes that usually make enough to feed a small army. As much as I love a good escarole and white bean soup, or even a good turkey chili, after 6 bowls of the stuff in 6 days I've fallen out of love.
This chunky lentil soup with root vegetables is perfect for these autumn nights. I love this soup because it cooks in about 30 minutes. Please trust me on the soup toppings because...because, well, lentils can be a bit boring. I like a sprinkling of red wine vinegar with a drizzle of roasted walnut oil or a squirt of dijon mustard with freshly ground black pepper. Either topping requires chopped fresh parsley. These toppings add an element of salt, so if you skip them, you will find your soup requires more salt.

Chunky Lentil Soup with Root Vegetables (serves two)

3/4 cup French green lentils (du Puy)
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, small diced
1 large carrot, peeled, quartered and diced
1 small purple-topped turnip, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chicken base (I like Penzey's for it's low salt content)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
walnut oil
Dijon mustard
red wine vinegar
fresh lemon juice
handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Place lentils in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest on the counter 10-15 minutes while you prepare vegetables.
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, saute onion, carrot, and turnip in olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cover with lid. Let saute for about 5 minutes, lifting the lid frequently to stir. Just as the carrots and onions are beginning to brown, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf and dried thyme. Pour over 2 cups of water and plop in the chicken base. Drain and add lentils. Let soup come to a simmer, then lower heat and let simmer while covered for 30 minutes, or until lentils are done.
Ladle soup into bowls and serve with desired toppings.

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