This Brown Lentil Soup is the first lentil soup I ever made, and the first time I made it was over forty years ago. Lentils were made for Middle Eastern seasonings, lemon, garlic and cumin. I always like a little heat in my food, too, and I almost always use hot paprika for that. I keep this brown lentil soup somewhat milder, though, and just use enough paprika to make the soup interesting, though still comforting. Spinach is a traditional Middle Eastern addition to the basic soup, and it makes the soup a nice meal in a bowl.
BROWN LENTIL SOUP WITH SPINACH
- Brown lentils, dried, 1 lb. (about 3 scant cups)
- Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
- Spanish onion, 1
- Carrots, 3 or 4
- Celery, 3 or 4 stalks
- Garlic, 1-2 TB, minced (6-8 large cloves)
- Cumin, 1 TB
- Salt, 1 TB (then to taste)
- Hot paprika, 1 tsp.
- Water, 6-9 cups (note: always start with less water – it’s easy to add during cooking to get the consistency you want)
- Lemon, juice of 1.5-2 lemons
- Cilantro, 1/2 bunch, minced
- Spinach, 1/2 lb. – 1 lb., rough chopped
- Other veggies, opt. (see note below)
- Mince the garlic, and petite dice the carrots and celery.
- Add extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of your soup pot. Add prepared veggies and garlic and saute until softened.
- Add the lentils and four cups of water or veggie broth per cup of lentils (about 12 cups of water).
- Add optional veggies, petite diced. I don’t usually do this, but if I happen to have something appropriate that I want to use up, this soup is a good place. For this batch, I had the cores of a lot of zucchini and summer squash that I had used for zucchini “pasta,” so I petite diced it and tossed it in.
- Add the remaining seasonings: salt, cumin, hot paprika and lemon juice.
- Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils soften and begin to blend. I prefer to see actual lentils in my soup, so I don’t want to over-cook.
- With a potato ricer, mash the lentils a little to thicken the soup — again, not completely. It’s good to see those lentils!
- Add the finely chopped cilantro and rough-chopped spinach. Sometimes I cut the spinach in ribbons.
- Remove from heat. Serve with a little extra lemon and olive oil.
Lentils are a great food for vegetarians and vegans, and they can be used in so many ways. This Lentil Soup is just a good, basic recipe, and it’s quick and easy to make.
For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.