Today my extended family is celebrating Christmas. Which means we’re having a potluck dinner. There won’t be a lot for my sister and I to eat, but that’s ok. My sister, in addition to having celiac also has to watch her carbohydrate intake, so I decided I would make a pot of lentil soup, because in addition to being highly nutritious, and tasty ends up being something she can eat about as much as she wants to. I found this in a book that the sous chef brought in to work a while back, and I made it there a few days ago. It was a hit there, so it should be a hit today as well. It is called Faki, and it is a fairly traditional Greek lentil soup.
I’m making a pretty good sized batch so you may want to scale down the ingredients a bit.
1 pound onions roughly chopped
1 pound carrots roughly chopped (I like carrots)
several cloves of garlic, minced (how much garlic do you like?)
2 pounds of lentils, sorted for extraneous crap, and rinsed well
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 bay leaves
2 tsp marjoram
1 tsp herbes de provence (I love this stuff, and it goes so well in lots of things)
salt and black pepper
water to cover, and more as needed.
red wine vinegar 1 cup (to taste)
This soup is a very easy one to get together. Start by sweating the onions and carrots with a dash of salt in a little vegetable oil until the onions are translucent. Then add the lentils, and mix them in. Next add the tomatoes, bay leaves, all the herbs,and water. Bring it up to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. It will need to simmer for roughly 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
That is it, then about five minutes before you serve the soup, add the vinegar. You don’t want it to be overpowering, but you do want to taste it. It will bring a nice balance to the earthiness of the lentils. Serve with some crumbled feta, and enjoy.
This really is a fantastic soup for a cold day, the omnivores will never miss the meat, and your vegetarian friends will be happy too!
Hope everybody had a safe, and happy holiday!
I guess my past with lentils is a little strange. I first heard of them watching The Young Ones on MTV when I was a kid. Of course I had no idea what they were. It was still funny to see Neil try to serve them in the episodes with all of the crazy things that went on in the show. Tea kettles exploding, atom bombs, and then add in bands like Madness, Motörhead, and the Damned, and you’ve got a show that any 13 year old in 1986 would enjoy.
I first actually ate them at work, when I made lentil soup for the first time. I had a recipe, and everything in it sounded pretty tasty together, and so I figured the lentils wouldn’t hurt anything. One of the people I follow on Twitter is Eric Ripert, and from time to time he tweets recipes. One day I saw this:
ericripert Lentil soup: lentils+onion+ carrot+bacon +water+
seasoning.when tender remove meat.Blend +butter to soup consistency.Chix stock even better.
9:04 PM Oct 19th via Twitter for iPhone
That sounded like as good a recipe as any, and maybe better than a lot of them. Tonight for dinner, I’m making it. Obviously, this recipe leaves plenty of room for improvisation, so I’ll do just that.
I could just leave you with Chef Ripert’s tweet, but I won’t.
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 stick celery, diced
8 oz lentils (weight, half of a one pound bag)
1 quart chicken broth (I use Progresso, low sodium) I didn’t use the whole thing
salt, pepper, bay leaves, herbes de provence
3 TBSP butter (divided 1 and 2)
Sort and rinse your lentils. Always sort and rinse your lentils and beans. This is important because they are small, and about the same size as a piece of gravel or rock. Chomping down on a rock in the middle of your lentil soup would be “heavy, man.”
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium sized pot. Turns out I didn’t have any bacon, but I would have put it in once the butter had melted. Add the veggies and a pinch of salt, and sweat until the onions are clear. Add the lentils, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, and turn it down to a simmer. You may need to add a little more broth or water as the lentils cook. Once they are tender, remove from the heat, and puree the solids. I strained the soup, pulled out the bay leaves, and used my little Cuisinart to do the job, but an immersion blender would do just as well. (Just a quick note, my sister knitted what I am using as a trivet in the above picture. )
Then I put the soup back together in the pot, and turned the heat back on, and added the final two tablespoons of butter. This just added a nice bit of richness. I always like to bring my soups back up to a boil before I serve them. This soup could easily be made vegan by leaving out the bacon, subbing olive oil for the butter, and veggie broth for the chicken broth. You’d still have a great tasting soup. “Lentils are really good, you know? No matter how many times you have them, they never get boring.” — Niel