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Friday, November 11, 2011

Lentil Soup

I had been opposed to lentil soup for most of my life.  As a child, the only lentil soup I had ever been exposed to was sludgy-looking and smelled really bad. 

As I got older, I heard so many different people singing the praises of lentil soup that I began to rethink my aversion to lentils.

Several years ago, I scoured the Internet for 5-star lentil soup recipes and after a little bit of experimenting decided which ingredients and seasonings would be the most appealing to my family. 

I'm happy to say that every member of my family likes this soup, unlike the lentil soup of my childhood (which only my mother and my youngest brother would eat.  My dad, my other brother and I would hold our noses while they ate it.  No, not really.  Okay, yes really.  And maybe with a few "ewwwwwwwwws" "yucks" and gagging noises thrown in).

I believe in sprouting the lentils overnight.  Once they begin to sprout, they are no longer a dormant seed, but a live plant.  Sprouting aids digestibility, by neutralizing the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which are very irritating to your digestive system.  Remember this the next time you eat beans and it causes intestinal distress!  Sprouting allows the beans to produce enzymes which aid in their digestion.

Here is a picture I took of a few of the lentils before I sprouted them, while they were still dry.

And here they are about 24 hours later, after soaking.  Squint your eyes and look through my blurry photography, and you can see tiny white sprouts emerging.

I'll stop my lecture now.

If you don't want to sprout your lentils, you can omit the sprouting and just add the lentils into the soup while they are still dry; HOWEVER, you must increase the cooking time by about a half hour to allow the lentils to soften. 

The only downside to sprouting your lentils is that this soup is not a recipe that you can prepare on the spur of the moment.   I can never think to myself, "Maybe I'll whip up a pot of lentil soup!" Instead, I have to change my thought process to, "REMEMBER to sprout lentils so that I can whip up a pot of soup TOMORROW."

Today's Playlist
  • "Lazy Mary".........Lou Monte
  • "Sherry".......Frankie Valli And The 4 Seasons
  • "Jump In The Line".........Harry Belafonte
  • "Brown Eyed Girl".........Van Morrison
  • "Sway"........Michael Buble
  • "Calypso Italiano"......Lou Monte
  • "Little Bitty Pretty One".........Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
  • "I've Got You Under My Skin".........Frank Sinatra
  • "The Longest Time".........Billy Joel
  • "Runaround Sue"........Dion

Lentil Soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups green lentils {soaked for 24 hours in 1 tablespoon of raw cider vinegar (or the juice of 1/2 lemon), 2 1/2 cups of water and sprouted}
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Note: If you really want a lot of lentils in your soup, use an additional cup of lentils (sprouted in 2 cups additional water and an additional tablespoon of vinegar).  If you prefer your soup a bit thicker and not so brothy, use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your preferred consistency.

The day before you are going to cook the soup, soak the lentils to sprout them.

This is what you will need.  A medium-sized bowl, raw cider vinegar, water and the lentils.  If you don't have the vinegar, you could use fresh lemon juice instead.  The juice of half a lemon should do it. 

Place the lentils and 2 1/2 cups of water in the bowl.  Add the vinegar.

Stir to combine, and let it sit for at least twelve hours.  I always let it sit for 24 hours.

This is what it looks like, 24 hours later.  Just drain them and they're ready to use.

Gather your ingredients.

Heat the olive oil in a 6 to 8 quart pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped carrots, onions, celery and salt.

 Stir frequently until the onions are softened and translucent, approximately 6 minutes.

Add the lentils,

the can of tomatoes with their juices,

the broth,



and freshly ground pepper. 

Stir to combine.  Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil.  When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low.  Cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes so the flavors can blend.

If you decide not to sprout your lentils, you will want to increase the simmering time by about a half-hour, to give the lentils time to soften.

While my soup was simmering, I was able to finish covering the chair pads of my dining room chairs, a project that I had started last week while I was waiting for my beef stew to cook.

I'm happy to have finished that project.  I have just enough fabric left to cover an extra little stool that I have sitting in the corner of the dining room.

I will save this project for another day.  The lentil soup finished cooking before I had a chance to cover the extra stool.

My family prefers the soup to be served as it is, with lots of broth.  As suggested in the above note, you can use more lentils if you want to, or you can thicken up the texture a bit by using an immersion blender.


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