This slowly simmered soup that I doctored over several hours time, while I was home working on some writing that I had to do, does not have a set recipe, but since so many asked for it, I feel compelled to set it down. Just don’t take it as gospel! It could be made in a crockpot. A crockpot version, however, would benefit from making the mirepoix, the sauteed aromatic vegetable mixture, in a separate cast iron pan. I brought to this to a gathering of neighbors sponsored by Alisa, on the Fall Equinox, all women; we enjoyed getting to know each other over champagne and zinfandel. Brie and apple, crudites with dip, diced cheese, and my friend Diane’s pasta (rotelle) salad made with broccoli and tuna, rounded out the food part of the gathering!
Ingredients, Part I:
1 pkg or about 2 cups lentils (rinsed)
1 qt water, 1 qt. vegetable stock (or chicken stock) (approximate amounts, add more if it seems to need it!)
2 large bay leaves
Simmer this for about 20 minutes while preparing and sauteeing the vegetables.
Ingredients, Part II or Mirepoix
olive oil, generous amount, heated in pan
1 onion (or mixture of yellow and red), diced
Several shallots, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 med. organic carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, scliced
1 box chopped Pomi tomatoes, or chopped fresh tomatoes, plus 1-2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
a couple pinches dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Red wine, 1/4 c.
Natural High Liquid Aminos or soy sauce, 2 squirts
1 bunch spinach, washed, chopped
Slice of lemon
Hard boiled eggs, crumbled
Fresh chopped Italian parsley
While lentils simmer, gently saute the onions in a cast iron pan. After 5 minutes, add minced garlic and shallots (if you have them). Then add celery and carrots and spices. After about 5-10 minutes, add tomatoes and their juice. After lentils have a good head start (you don’t want vegetables to get too overdone), add these vegetables to the simmering lentils.
For richer flavor, I have added Natural High Liquid Aminos (1-2 tbsp) and some leftover Cotes du Rhone (red) wine (about 1/4 cup) and let lentil mixture simmer at a low heat for another 30 to 45 minutes.
Taste lentils and when they are soft, but still hold their shape, you are close to being done. To thicken the broth, I ladled a pint or two into a tall container and used a hand immersion blender to make a puree. I added this back to the soup. Don’t puree the spinach, rather add this afterwards, as the tomatoes and spinach pureed together might produced too muddy a color.
In the last hour of simmering, I added a slice of meyer lemon, and after the soup is done, I added 1 bunch of very fresh, well washed young spinach, chopped before adding to pot. Letting the hot soup just sit, with the fresh spinach, is adequate.
Letting the soup sit and cool down allows flavors to mingle. Heat gently before eating.
In this version of lentil soup, the lentils and vegetables remain whole, except for the small amount pureed, allowing soup to have some texture.
For toppings, consider adding chopped hard-boiled eggs, chopped fresh parsley, more fresh ground pepper, and salt to taste.