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soup weather

Recipe: lentil soup

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This morning a kind, portly dude knocked on the door at 7:55. I was in my bike shorts, ready to ride for an hour because these guys weren’t scheduled to arrive until 10 am to 2 pm. But here they were, not necessarily bright-eyed and bushy-tailed either. It was snowing, and the fellows in Denver aren’t too keen on the lovely mountain weather I cherish.

from my office perch – the snow conditions

The package is a new treadmill I’ve been contemplating for several years now. We found a great deal on a heavy duty model because I can’t stand those little flimsy wimpy home-version treadmills that fall apart the minute you hit a decent clip. I want to run, not jog on my treadmill. I’m a big fan of the commercial treadmills at gyms, but my doc advised me to keep away from public gyms for a while. So this is what we have. It rounds out my personal gym nicely. I call it my gym because Jeremy’s too tall for my bike frame and he’s rowed all of 15 minutes on my rower, ever. He tells me he will run on the treadmill. Yeah, whatever ;)

floor plan

Pardon the mess. Not sure where to put the bike. I like to look out the window when I ride because we don’t own a brain rot box (tv). The beauty of the rower and the treadmill is that they can both be folded and moved. Anyway, the treadmill is downstairs because the delivery guys looked scared when I said I planned to put it on the second floor. I let them off the hook and told them Jeremy and I would move it ourselves – all 280 pounds of it. They were like, “you?”. Yeah guys, me – strong as a horse. I’m so stoked! Now I can enjoy my favorite season AND run, bike, row, which ice, wind, and freezing temps render practically impossible outside.

It really is soup weather here and I finally got around to making a soup I love. There is no good reason why I haven’t cooked much with lentils other than I never knew what lentils were until I went to college. Lately, I’ve seen pictures of lentil dishes and I find myself craving lentils. What’s up with that?

green lentils, green french lentils

I am lentil stupid, as in I have never gone and bought them from the bulk section. I knew I needed green lentils. I found lentils that looked green. Turns out those were green French lentils and I’m not sure if there is much difference between those and the regular green lentils, but I went back and got the proper kind. I was also unaware that they had to soak overnight (sort of like the time I decided to make Panettone at 11 pm and didn’t read that it had to rise, three times). What does it mean to pick over lentils, anyway? I found nothing that shouldn’t have been there…

soaked green lentils

Once the lentils were ready (the next day) I was jazzed to get going. There is a terrific Lebanese restaurant in Alhambra, California, Wahib’s Middle East Restaurant, that we used to frequent. This soup was one of my favorite ways to start a meal. I found a recipe for it in Christine Osborne’s Middle Eastern Cooking.

sauté onions in butter

add the drained lentils

Once the lentils are added, seasonings and broth go into the pot. The recipe calls for homemade beef broth. Homemade beef broth is amazing and nothing like the store bought versions, but I just don’t have that on hand (chicken broth is another story entirely – I always have homemade chicken broth in my freezer). I used Better than Bouillon beef stock concentrate paste and it didn’t detract from the end product. Now since my pal, Liz, just got a crock pot, this is when you could crock pot the whole ordeal until soft, or if you’re impatient like me, cook on the stove top for 1.5 hours at a simmer. When the lentils were soft I scooped about 2 cups’ worth into my food processor.

ready to purée

The recipe says to wait until the soup cools before blending the lentils – and she blends them all, but… I didn’t wait. I don’t think it hurt the soup. You can blend it to a fine paste or a chunky paste, whatever you like. This gets stirred back into the soup to create a thicker body. Next time I might should blend 3-4 cups, but I still like having whole lentils swimming in my soup.

pour and blend into the soup

add lemon juice and olive oil

Once blended, I was supposed to reheat the soup, but mine was still hot. I stirred in lemon juice and olive oil, then ladled it into a bowl. Serve it up with a garnish of croutons and chopped parsley. I love this soup.

soup to warm the heart and soul (and tummy)

Lentil Soup
[print recipe]
Middle Eastern Cooking by Christine Osborne

1 onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp butter
1 cup lentils, soaked overnight and drained
5 cups homemade beef stock
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
finely chopped parsley, to garnish

Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of butter until they are translucent. Dump the lentils into the pot and combine with the onions. Pour in the beef stock (I use bouillon) and add the cumin, salt and pepper. Cook on a low simmer for about 2 hours or until the lentils are falling-apart soft. Remove from heat. When the soup has cooled, you can purée the whole soup or, as I prefer, only purée half and leave the other half of the lentils intact. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and toss in the garlic. Stir the garlic around until it is fragrant and then add the bread cubes and fry until they are crisp and gold in color. Reheat the soup. Just before serving, add the olive oil and lemon to the soup. Top each serving with the croutons and a sprinkle of the parsley.

18 nibbles at “soup weather”

  1. Christine says:

    Brain rot box… you make me laugh. I love Middle Eastern lentil soup, so healthy and delicious.
    Did you buy French lentilles du Puy? I love those as well – they make a great side dish.
    P.S. We have similar monitors :)

  2. jenyu says:

    Christine – What are French lentilles du Puy? The tag on the bin at Whole Foods read: French Lentils. Not the center of culinary culture here in Colorado ;) What’s the side dish?? Recipe please! :) P.S. I knew you were a Mac user – all the cool people use Macs – ha ha ha!

  3. Amy says:

    Omg Jen I loooooove your house! Those windows are gorgeous and the view is breathtaking! This soup looks delish.

  4. Michelle says:

    I keep telling myself I need to try the lentils thing at home… pictures like that are certainly motivating. But what I’m really taken by is the picture of your house. I’m turning green… sort of like the lentils! ;)

  5. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    The soup looks good, but your house looks gorgeous! What a view!

    I like to put little pieces of broken vermicelli in my lentil soup. I can’t eat soup without some kind of pasta. My grandmother used to call it Pasta Lenticchie. I don’t know about other cultures, but Italians eat lentils on New Years Day to bring good luck in the coming year. So, eat up!

  6. Christine says:

    Jen- here’s a link to some info the these lentils:

    I didn’t realize this until now, but apparently they’re the first vegetable to receive the AOC denomination. They’ve got a nice-looking recipe for a salad of lentils that is very close to what I’ve had and made (I use walnut instead of hazelnut oil). Our food co-op sells them in bulk, which I’m grateful for. I’ll try to get a photo of these up on my blog for you to see.

    Ahh, mac users, so much cooler :) Jen, I gave into the Mac recently – around the same time I gave into the Canon. So now it’s mac and pc, canon and nikon. loyalists no more.

    Well, Since I’m writing a novel in this comment…I love all the photos you post of your home – the blinding light sometimes coming through your windows, the treadmill, the sleepy dog, I love it all!

  7. Kevin says:

    That lentil soup sounds pretty good. I have been meaning to try cooking with lentils.

  8. Judy (Judy's Gross Eats) says:

    I’ve cooked with lentils for years and really love them. In my pantry right now I have brown lentils (American), several boxes of green lentilles du Puys, and a jar of red lentils. I use them for soups and salads. I don’t soak them as a rule, since they cook in only 35 to 45 minutes; otherwise they turn to mush. Favorites are Lentil Ham Soup, Steak & Lentil Salad, Greek Salad with Bulgur wheat and Lentils. Enjoy the treadmill and the snow.

  9. Adina says:

    Picking over lentils means that you spread them out on a plate and check for any little pebbles, sticks, or other debris. I have found them sometimes, but not often.

    I think the big difference between the French green lentils and regular ones is that the French ones are really tiny, don’t need to be soaked, and will cook pretty quickly.

    The reason that the recipe says to wait until the soup cools before pouring into the blender is to reduce the chance of spilling boiling hot soup. I think blenders are more air-tight than food processors, and it’s apparently possible, if you’re blending hot soup, to get a pressure build-up that will blow the lid off and send scalding liquid everywhere.

  10. Joy says:

    Jen – your house is stunning and your view – wow!

  11. Rosa says:

    A tasty soup! Very comforting and warming when it’s snowing outside…

    I love the view you have from your office! Gorgeous! You are really lucky to live in such a wonderful place…



  12. jenyu says:

    Amy – thanks!

    Michelle – oh hon, the lentils are awesome. Definitely give it a try because they are so easy. I wish I had started cooking them years ago. The house is great… just that our winds in the winter are something else! Gusts of 50 mph are considered “breezy” :)

    SGCC – mmmm, Italian… :) That’s a great idea. Thanks for the tip, sweetie!

    Christine – Canon, eh? I am Nikon, but used to be Canon in the analog days. Both excellent camera makers. Can’t same the same for Mac and PC. Mac is king in our house (between the two of us we have 4, soon to be 5 Macs, a iphone and ipod). Oh, but we all know it’s not the camera that makes the photo, right?? :)

    Kevin – I’m glad I’m not the only lentil beginner out there!

    Judy – oooh, you are the lentil expert, my dear! I’ll have to try those recipes out. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Adina – thanks for the great info.

    Joy – we like it too! The price we pay is ridiculous winds in winter. It gets fierce, but… worth it to us!

    Rosa – thanks Rosa, we agree :)

  13. Tartelette says:

    One of my favorites. Gorgeous!

  14. Tanya says:

    This makes me want to try it, even though I don’t *like* lentils. Wow!

  15. jenyu says:

    Tartelette – thanks!

    Tanya – I never thought I liked lentils either, but I really do – especially in this soup (actually, I think the soup is what changed my mind about lentils). :)

  16. Manisha says:

    No need to soak lentils if you have a pressure cooker :-D
    And always pick over. The day I don’t D breaks a tooth on a big rock I missed!
    I need to make lentils the Indian way for you. You will love them!

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