My whole family is in Arizona and are enjoying sun and warm weather. Here in Chicago it’s 27 degrees and it snowed all day today. Not to complain, but I am feeling left out and jealous. Oops I think I just did complain. In an attempt to make my family jealous of me, I made an outstanding soup tonight for dinner and if they were here, I would have dropped some off for them. I made lentil soup and it was flavorful, satisfying, and very healthy. Lentils are high in protein and iron so I need to start cooking with them more often. My eight month old daughter even took a few bites. As the winter turns cold, we eat soup all the time and enjoy having it in the fridge or the freezer to pull out anytime. As always, soup gets better the longer it sits, so if you have time make it a few days in advance before serving. Tonight I made it right before dinner and it was still fantastic. So while I wish I was eating guacamole and sipping a glass of white wine on my parent’s roof top deck, this was an acceptable alternative for this cold Monday night in the Midwest.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery stalks plus chopped celery leaves for garnish
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth plus more to thin out soup if necessary
1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2–ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
Optional topping: sour cream (this adds a little creaminess to the soup)
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups broth, lentils, and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
Transfer 2-3 cups soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick. Season with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with celery leaves and a dollop of sour cream (if desired).
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 2006 recipe for French Lentil Soup
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