The first time I tried making this soup we were having some friends over for dinner. Although I’d never experimented with the soup before, I had an idea in my head of what I was looking for and had made other kinds of delicious lentil soups in the past, and so I “tested out” this idea of a recipe on my company. Aaaaanndd … it was so, sooo blah. Blah to the blahest. Boring. Bad. Embarrassing.
My kind friends ate it graciously and didn’t say a word. (I have better friends than I do cooking skills.)
The next time we were having company, I decided to try the soup again. I know. But my thinking was, “Now that I’ve tasted it, I know what it needs.”
I was wrong.
But it had potential; I just needed to adjust and increase the seasonings. Apparently, lentils and sweet potatoes cooked in a broth turn out bland and need lots of seasonings to give them flavor. Most lentil soup recipes deal with the blah factor by adding chili peppers, ginger, or something else spicy to impart some zing. But I was trying to avoid spices and rely on herbs, so back to the
drawing board scrap paper and soup pot.
I adjusted the herbs and made the soup again … and whadayaknow … we have unexpected company! And the soup was …. blah. Fail.
The next time I made it (yes, I made it again – I’m a slow learner), you’d think we’d eat it by ourselves, wouldn’t you? But ’tis not true. However, my guest was my mom, who loves me even if the soup tastes bad. Which is a good thing, because it definitely wasn’t great.
After many failed attempts, I FINALLY ended up with a good-tasting soup. Nicely-flavored. Not spicy. And now that I’ve made all the mistakes, you can try it with success the first time.
And this post is dedicated to my dear friend who told me the other day when I was at her house for lunch that she felt nervous to cook for me. No worries, friend.
Winter Lentil Soup
Yield 11 cups
A hearty wintertime soup chock full of nutrition. Note that some of the seasoning amounts are in tablespoons; this isn't a typo.
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
- 1 stalk celery, diced small
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced medium
- 3 cups finely chopped kale
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- 6 cups water or broth
- 3 1/2 cups (one 28-ounce can) diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups (one 14-ounce can) tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons granulated onion
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt – see note
- 2 teaspoons raw sugar
- 1/2 cup uncooked lentils (sorted and rinsed in a colander)
- In a large soup pan, sauté onions in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent – about 8 minutes.
- Add carrots, celery, and sweet potatoes, and continue sautéing for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in kale, parsley, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes or until kale is wilted and bright green.
- Add water or broth and diced tomatoes. Turn heat to high.
- Add seasonings and lentils, cover, and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and cook at a low boil for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and allow to sit (covered) for an additional 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
The amount of salt needed will depend on how much salt is in the diced tomatoes, broth, and tomato puree. If you use low-sodium version of these ingredients, you may want to increase the salt slightly.