For my ladies' quarterly dinner group, we've started a soup swap. We each bring a quart of homemade soup to exchange after dinner. This time I came home with Strawberry Soup (like a smoothie!), Cold Curried Carrot and Cocunut Milk, Potato Leek, and Mushroom Soup. I made Hearty Lentil Soup from Cook's Illustrated.
Hearty Lentil Soup
From the Cook's Illustrated website: Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven cook until crispy:
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 3 ounces)
Add to the pot, and stir occasionally until they soften (about 2 min.):
1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup)
Add and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds):
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Stir in and cook for another 30 seconds:
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over (7 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper to taste
Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened (about 8-10 minutes).
Uncover, increase heat to high, and add:
1/2 cup dry white wine
Bring to a simmer and then add:
4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
Bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape (30-35 min.). Discard the bay leaf.
Puree 3 cups of soup in the blender until smooth*, then return to the pot. Stir in:
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Heat soup over medium-low heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
2 TB fresh chopped parsley
Serve and garnish each bowl with some parsley sprigs.
*The original recipe calls for some of the soup to be pureed at the end, but my family (as well as the dinner group ladies) liked the texture and taste of the soup without pureeing. I also think it looks better as is. Go ahead and puree if you'd like, but it's not necessary.