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Posts Tagged ‘hearty soups’

Hearty Lentil Soup “Can you stay for dinner?” an elementary schoolmate asked me decades ago. “We’re having lentil soup, she said. “What are lentils?” I asked. Being of Asian descent, lentils had never passed through my lips before. To my delight, I found her family’s lentil soup to be rich in flavor and texture and I will forever associate lentils with her.

Lentils, like other legumes, are high in fiber and protein and low in fat. But unlike other legumes, there’s no need to presoak lentils and they take less time to cook. The dominant flavors in this robust soup come from the earthiness of the lentils and the fresh vegetables, but the subtle undertones come from two surprising ingredients: Dijon mustard and vinegar. This soup is hostess-friendly, too, because it can be made a day in advance and it tastes even better when served the second day!

Hearty Lentil Soup
Recipe from the Sacramento Bee

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion
3 large garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup finely diced carrot
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1½ cups French green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Chopped celery leaves and parsley, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over high heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to color around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mince or pound the garlic in a mortar with 1 teaspoon salt.

3. Work the tomato paste into the onion, then add the garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves and parsley and cook for 3 minutes.

4. Add the lentils, 2 quarts of water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, 24 to 35 minutes.

5. Stir in the mustard and vinegar. Taste and add more of either as needed.

6. Check the salt, season with plenty of pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve, garnished with the celery leaves and parsley.

7. The longer the soup sits before serving, the better it will taste.

Serves 4 to 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I use Italian parsley when I make this soup.

2. Because I like the way French green lentils hold their shape, I prefer using them in this soup over brown lentils.

3. The second time I made this soup, I used vegetable broth in place of the water. I can honestly say that there was no noticeable improvement in flavor using the broth, so I don’t recommend spending extra money on vegetable broth. This is not to say, though, that homemade vegetable stock wouldn’t have added a richness to the soup.

ENJOY!

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I never knew what the big deal was about butternut squash soup until I tasted some at a Zagat-rated restaurant. It was thick and creamy like most squash soups are, but what made this one stand out was the surprising taste of apple in it. As soon as I got home from dinner that night, I searched the Internet for a similar soup recipe. None of the recipes I found was exactly what I was looking for and I was disappointed. Then at the end of a long day of Christmas shopping, I came across a cookbook for soups and stews that contained a recipe for a butternut and apple soup. Although, I was supposed to be buying gifts for others, I quickly snatched up the cookbook and bought a gift for myself!

Winter Squash and Apple Bisque
Recipe from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook Soup & Stew

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 Pippin, Granny Smith, or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 butternut squash, about 2 lb, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus whole leaves for garnish
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/2 cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:
1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Sauté the onion and shallots until softened, about five minutes.

2. Add the apples and squash and cook until nicely coated, about 3 minutes longer.

3. Add the stock and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Add the thyme.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat. Using a handheld or standing blender, purée the soup until smooth.

6. Stir in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper.

7. Reheat gently over medium-low heat.

8. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the sour cream and rosemary and thyme leaves.

Makes 6-8 servings

Linnell’ Notes:
1. Just a reminder, butternut squash are easier to peel if you microwave them on high for two minutes first.

2. I would have liked this soup even more if it had a more pronounced apple flavor. The next time I make this soup, I will add one more apple. Also, I think I will experiment with different varieties of apples to see which one gives the soup the best flavor.

3. Other dense, orange-fleshed winter squash could be substituted for the butternut squash.

Enjoy!

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