Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lentil Soup


There comes a time, perhaps after the heaviness of the holidays, when the body craves simple, clean food. At times like these, it seems natural to re-establish a relationship with food based on nourishment rather than indulgence. Perhaps this is why soup is such an appropriate vehicle for leftovers. You can keep your heavy gravy, right now I prefer a clear broth. Although leftovers aren't necessarily involved here, unless you have a hambone to use, as far as light and clear, this definitely fits the bill.

This is the lentil soup of my childhood, the one I've known for as long as I can remember. But that's not the only thing that makes it perfect. It's an old family recipe, passed down from my German great-grandmother. And you don't have to be in the family to recognize how special it is. Everyone who tastes it loves it. It's the kind of homey, warming soup that takes mere moments of actual work, with no stock necessary and few ingredients. There are certain brands my family uses, and while I don't mind toying with recipes, those that have withstood generations should be left alone. So I'll recommend what my family usually does.


While it does include a fair amount of soy sauce, it's not a particularly Asian tasting soup. The soy sauce adds a depth of flavor more than anything else, that ellusive umami that makes savory dishes like this so satisfying. Also, don't be afraid to use the Better than Bullion, in this case, it just somehow works.

Heirloom Lentil Soup

2 1/2 cups lentils - soaked overnight in water just to cover
1 tablespoon salt
2 - 3 bay leaves
5 stalks celecry, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, chopped
1 hambone, or 1-4 cup vegetable oil
3 - 4 tablespoons Maggi Seasoning Soy Sauce
2 - 3 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a dutch oven and cover with water. Add the vegetable oil, the Maggi and the Better than Bouillon and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. After the first hour, add the potatoes and continue to simmer for one hour more. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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I'm sending this post in to Ilva of Lucullian Delights (one of my all-time favorite blogs) for this month's edition of The Heart of the Matter, an event that focuses on healthy foods.

8 comments:

Amy said...

Yes, I totally agree; after all the heavy holiday foods I think we all begin to crave lighter, fresher, more nourishing dishes. This looks great, and I love that it's been passed down through generations in your family! Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year!

Melissa said...

This sounds great. I am kinda tired of all the heavy stuff myself. Thanksgiving...Christmas...definatley need this. :) Thanks!

Peter said...

Hello! I'd love to try your Lentil Soup, but I'm totally ignorant about lentils. Which kind of lentils are these? I see all different kinds usually described by their color. Thanks so much!

Angela said...

This is the truest thing I've read so far in the New Year. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the terrific posting and the wonderful family recipe.

Andrea said...

Amy, thanks so much. Happy New Year to you, too!

Melissa, totally, it's been a month of heavy food!

Peter, you're in luck, we just use the inexpensive lentils from the grocery store, nothing fancy, and those tend to be the green ones. The only thing you wouldn't want to use is Moong dal, or the Indian split lentil because it breaks apart during cooking and makes a kind of porridge. Let me know how it goes!

Angela, thanks for such a nice comment! Happy New Year!

Ilva said...

Thank you, it is really a perfect entry for the HotM! And Thank You for you kind words too!

Chrissy said...

I had lentil soup at a nice restaurant the other day, which is a perfect food on a cold winter night. But it wasn't nearly as good as this one. I need to make this soon!

phone search said...

Never been a huge fan of lentil, but this actually sounds really tasty.