When I have my cooking act together, I make this easy lentil soup and store it in freezer containers for later. But you’ll notice this recipe doesn’t contain a couple ingredients one often finds in lentil soup.
The first omission is celery, since I try not to buy produce where 95% of it will go bad before I use it. I actually really like celery, but without a plan it becomes yellow and bendy in no time. If for some reason you have it around, add some diced celery along with the onion and carrot. Otherwise, no sweat.
The other missing ingredient is bay leaf. Nothing against bay leaf, but if you’re like most people with ancient dried bay leaves in your spice pantry, just throw them out. They add nothing. In fact, despite using it in recipes for years, I barely knew what bay leaf should smell like.
One time a friend of mine in Paris (of course) shared some fresh bay leaf with me. When I caught a whiff of it I said, “Oh my GOD, is THAT what’s it’s supposed to smell like?!?”
My bay leaf was always odorless and had the consistency of an Egyptian papyrus scroll that disintegrates when you look at it.
Anyway, my point is unless you’re in France and/or it has flavor, save yourself a step and don’t bother with bay leaf.
What this easy lentil soup does contain is greens (baby spinach to be specific), because I shove those greens wherever I can. Feel free to experiment with other greens, keeping in mind the darker and thicker they are, the longer they’ll take to cook.
This recipe also features brown lentils. There are many types of brown lentils and any kind will do.
I like the half-chunky texture once the soup is blended. It becomes less stew, more soup. If you find it’s still a bit thick, you can always add water or some vegetable stock. Soup isn’t an exact science.
This recipe is also great served with rice or another grain for a complete meal.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1¼ c dried brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 quart unsalted vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 cups baby spinach
- black pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, dried basil and dried oregano and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, lentils and salt, stirring another minute to combine. Stir in vegetable stock. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 45 minutes. Stir in red wine vinegar. Using an immersion blender (or transferring half the soup to a traditional blender), purée until the soup is partly smooth but some whole lentils are recognizable. Stir in baby spinach and cook uncovered another 5 minutes until spinach is wilted. Serve hot. Season with black pepper to taste, if you like.