Post-Thanksgiving Lentil Soup

[In the backyard, November 2008.]

Actually, I suppose that should be pre-Thanksgiving lentil soup, because I cooked a big pot of this delicious, vegetable-laden goodness last Tuesday for my office as a little pre-holiday celebration and also to sort of cleanse our palates for the big feast that was to come in just a few days. But I think the Saturday afternoon after the crumbs from the herb rolls, apple pie, corn bread stuffing, and mushroom galette have been swept away would also be the perfect time to slow down and have a bowl of this simple, nourishing soup.

My office is pretty neat in that we have an enormous, light-filled kitchen with a Wolf stove and all the various cooking accouterments you could wish for. I’ve baked pies and other coworkers have made latkes and sometimes we take food up to the roof where we’ll have a barbecue — and this is all at work. I am fortunate enough to have coworkers who not only encourage me to indulge in my penchant for cooking but will eat nearly everything I make willingly and, dare I admit it, fairly happily. We had some mushrooms and carrots leftover from a previous salad-making in our communal fridge and I thought it would be grand to use them up in a soup. I posited making a split-pea but a few, ahem, weren’t so keen on that idea so I’ve filed it away for when I’m back in my own little home kitchen (Sunday night, perhaps, I can finally make myself a nice, stewy, spinachy pot of those bright green legumes). Lentil, I thought. Most everyone likes lentils (and, I must add here that the one coworker who previously professed not to enjoy them very much did actually eat her entire bowl) and they’re cheap and quick to cook.

So in between a few edits I sauteed onion and garlic, dumped in lentils, and crumbled bouillon. Another coworker made corn bread muffins, and I’d brought in a pumpkin pie. People wandered in and out remarking on all the good smells, and around 12:30 we all convened in the kitchen to sit down to hot, brothy bowls of soup, munch on muffins, and cut thin slices of pie.

It was a fine afternoon.

Legumes are the vegetarian’s saving grace — all that protein, all that calcium — and there are so many ways to prepare them quickly and healthfully. Lentils are perhaps one of the fastest to cook, as they require no soaking in advance, and if popped into a pot of soup the cook can wander away to have a cup of tea while they simmer toward silkiness — or, if you’re so inclined, do a bit of work at the same time.

Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils, rinsed
8 cups water
1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dill
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 pound spinach
2 carrots, chopped
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 can crushed tomatoes
olive oil

In a large pot over medium heat, sautee the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and carrots, adding a little water if necessary so they don’t stick, about 5-10 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and dill and stir. Add the lentils and stir a few times, then add the water. Crumble the bouillon and add. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils begin to soften. Add the spinach, tomatoes, and more salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 10 minutes more.

Serve very hot, with bread.

Join the Conversation

  1. This would really go down nice after a big feast the day before…tasty, but not too heavy. Nice recipe!

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