It’s still super cold here and we have some kind of crazy subzero windchill right now, so it’s definitely time for serious winter soup, the kind that warms you up from the inside. This one is super easy, I promise.
One big onion or three little bitty onions
Three or four carrots
Three or four celery stalks
Four medium potatoes
One cup lentils
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Big spoon for stirring
Chop the onion and put it in the pot while you chop the carrots and celery. Put some olive oil in the pot and sauté the onion until it starts to get a little translucent, then dump in the carrots and celery. Stir and sauté some more until they start to relax a bit. Chop the garlic during this time and then throw it on in – you want to fry the garlic a little but not too much. While you’re sautéing this, gouge out the potatoes’ eyes and then chop the potatoes, and check the lentils for stones. Once the stuff in the pot is starting to get fragrant, add the potatoes, lentils, and enough water to cover plus maybe half an inch – lentils can really suck up water. Stir in appropriate bullion and add rosemary and thyme – I eyeball the spices, but start with about a half teaspoon of each and add more if you want more. Bring it to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, and it’s ready when the potatoes and lentils are soft, about 30-45 minutes.
You can adjust amounts in this easily if you’re cooking for a big group, this is a basic outline and it’s very flexible. You can also add other things, fresh herbs, greens, whatever frozen veggies you have on hand. If you’re having a hard time with your hands or fatigue, it’s always fine to use pre-chopped or frozen stuff, don’t sweat it – it’s soup! Soup is very forgiving and very flexible. You can also change the spices around if that suits you – the difference between this recipe and my curries is a lot about the spices. This is meant to give you a base to start with, not to be set in stone.
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I like sweet onions, like a vidalia or a walla walla if I can get them, but a standard yellow onion is great. When I made this I had a bunch of little onions and used like three of them.
I love garlic and typically triple the garlic in any recipe. I didn’t specify how much garlic because different people like different amounts, and it’s hard to say “one clove of garlic” when it’s really different sizes in different regions. If you don’t like garlic much, I’d say one or two cloves. If you love garlic, toss in more and repel vampires for your entire metro area and know that you’re making the soup the same way I am. If you don’t have fresh garlic, garlic powder is great and you can throw it in when you put in the other spices.
Carrots and celery – adjust for size. Don’t think “oh, celery is a silly vegetable and doesn’t taste like much” because celery really adds a lot in developing the flavor. A lot of recipes start out with onions, carrots and celery and build on that, because they’re a great base for building on.
Yellow potatoes are ideal here, red potatoes are my second choice. It’s fine to use whatever’s on hand though.
For the lentils, I’ve been using red lentils here because they break down and add a richness to the broth. Whatever lentils you have are fine, and you can mix different types – just go for about a cup, and definitely check them for stones. I’m so serious about this, you don’t want to break a tooth.
I use the “better than bullion no chicken” stuff. You can just use water, you can use broth or stock from a liter box, you can make your own if you’re feeling ambitious.
For the rosemary and thyme, I have the dried stuff on hand because you will notice this is not a gardening blog. If you’re using fresh, that’s great.
Salt and pepper are just for flavor. I like black pepper. I don’t think crushed red pepper works very well for this, but you can try whatever you like.
This soup is great topped with cheese for extra winter calories. Daiya would be my recommendation for vegan cheese since it melts, or possibly just add nutritional yeast for umami. For folks who eat cow cheese, I’d go for a mellow flavor rather than a sharp cheese. The soup would probably also go with a crusty bread if you really want something hearty.