Lentil Soup | foodsciencenerd.com

Del Posto Inspired Lentil Soup

Posted on Posted in Nutrition Information, Recipes

My best friend is a huge lentil fan.  Actually, I never realized I liked lentils at all until I had them at her house, and I fell in love with the way they absorb flavors like salt and garlic and package them up in a healthy little fiber- and protein-packed pellet.  My boyfriend, however, not so much.  To him, lentils seem like a squishy pea substitute that people suffer through just because they are healthy.  That is until we went to one of Mario Batali’s restaurants and had a tantalizing teeny little cup of his Castelluccio vegetarian lentil soup with root vegetables.  WOW.  He talked about it for months after, but I could not find a similar recipe no matter how hard I searched.  It was salty, brothy, and full of umami flavors (I’m still undecided about whether I like or hate that term, but it is appropriate here), despite being vegetarian.  So unlike most lentil soup recipes, which are squishy, thick, and generally inferior versions of pea soup (I generally like my lentils in non-soup applications as a side dish or salad base.)

Fortunately, lentils have recently become all the rage.  In fact, it’s the official Year of Pulses! Lentils are technically pulses, which are a specific category of legumes referring to the dried seed of a legume, like beans and split peas.  They are very high in fiber and protein as well as folate, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.  There are also abounding antioxidants that differ based on the color and variety of lentil.  But unlike beans and peas, lentils take all of 25 minutes to cook and require no presoaking.  No wonder they are popular!  I was not able to find the super fancy imported Castelluccio lentils that Batali used, but I did find Beluga lentils in the bulk section at Whole Foods, which is an excellent way to get healthy grains and legumes at a very cheap price.  These lentils in particular are smaller and maintain their shape more precisely than other lentils after cooking.  Once I had those, I basically made up a recipe that sounded good to me.

IMG_0699For the root vegetables, I used:

  • Red potatoes (7 very small)
  • Carrots (2 medium)
  • Parsnips (3 medium)

These I diced very, very small (technically called a brunoise- 1/8th inch cube) like they did at the restaurant.  I only did it because I had just purchased my first food processor and I wanted to use the slicing disk.  After using the slicing disk, I stacked up the flat pieces of vegetables and cut them into matchsticks and then into small cubes.IMG_0701I didn’t think this was necessary, but it actually is.  It allowed me to almost completely cook the veggies, which are notoriously slow cooking, just by a simple saute, which both speed up the cooking time and added a ton of flavor on the outside of all the pieces.IMG_0702

So, brunoise-ing seems like a very tedious task, but it’s worth it for the final texture and flavor.  There are no large, overly sweet-squishy carrot chunks to put up with, just fine, slightly crunchy bits of flavor.  Let the root veggies soften and brown over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic pepper.  Add a splash of chicken stock every so often if the veggies start browning too fast.

I also used aromatics to support the lentils:

  • 2 bay leaves (I had them in my fridge, but you could add any herbs you like, especially oregano, rosemary, or thyme)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, one minced and one quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • Onion powder (I just didn’t have an onion)

The bay leaves and quartered garlic I added directly to 1 cup of lentils (which I had checked for small rocks) in a large pot with about a cup of water- filtered, because hard water has minerals that interfere with the softening of the skin.  The celery and garlic I added to the saute pan with the root veggies.

I cooked the lentils slightly unconventionally, almost like a very fast risotto.  IMG_0700I added about a cup of filtered water (but no salt- the jury is still out on whether that prevents the cellulose in the skin from breaking down, so I played it safe and seasoned towards the end).  Once that water simmered down to the level of the lentils, I added more.  I continued like this for about 20 minutes (maybe 3 cups of water total) until the lentils were fairly soft.  At this point, I removed the bay leaves and garlic chunks and stirred in the root veggies.  IMG_0703I also added 4 cups of chicken stock (you could use vegetable, of course), as well as salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic salt until it was perfectly savory and flavorful.  Let the broth come to a simmer and the soup is ready to eat!

Lentil Soup | foodsciencenerd.com

It’s no Del Posto, but it is incredibly good.  And incredibly healthy.  Make it.  Eat it.  Love it.

Del Posto Inspired Lentil Soup

Del Posto Inspired Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • Red potatoes (7 very small)
  • Carrots (2 medium)
  • Parsnips (3 medium)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, one minced and one quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • Onion powder
  • 1 qt water, more as needed
  • 1 cup beluga or Castelluccio lentils
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Brunoise the root vegetables and saute in olive oil until mostly softened.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a medium pot and simmer until the lentils are soft, adding water one cup at a time and cooking until absorbed/evaporated.
  3. Remove the garlic chunks and the bay leaves and add the root vegetables and stock.
  4. Simmer until hot and season as desired.
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