This soup is a snap. So much so, that I’ve made more than a few big pots of it over the past few weeks. I bring tupperware to work filled with the stuff. I eat it for lunch, then I heat more up for dinner with crusty slices of Tartine bread and butter. I might be teetering on the brink of an overdose. But, I can’t help it. This soup is so simple and good.
I’ve tinkered with it a bit each time I make it, using a variety of veggies to determine my favorite flavor combinations, but the base has always remained the same – sautéed onion, chicken broth, red lentils and lemon juice. There is no recipe to follow. Truly. The red lentils do all the work, thickening the soup, arming it with protein and comfort. I’m a bit enamored of the red lentil. When you make this soup, you’ll know why…
So, because there’s no recipe, I’ll just post a few guidelines and you can take it from there. I’ve included my favorite ingredients below. Remember, be bold! Get creative! I promise you really can’t go wrong.
Healthy and Hearty Holiday Lentil Soup
Serves 4-6 hearty eaters
8 cups chicken broth (I love Better than Bouillon chicken base, I use a heaping tablespoon and mix with water)
1 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium, yellow onion, chopped
Fresh lemon juice to taste (I use juice from at least half a lemon)
1 bunch of kale, chopped (I like curly kale for its sturdiness)
1/2 of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
1 large can of salted plum tomatoes, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 bag of frozen sweet corn
Large nub of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small chunks*
Salt and pepper to taste
Healthy doses of hot curry powder and ground cumin
Tapatio or your favorite hot sauce, if you like it spicy
- In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and add onion and a pinch of sea salt. Saute until lightly browned.
- Add 8 cups of chicken broth (more or less) and then the red lentils. Stir to combine.
- The rest is really up to you. Red lentils don’t need much time to cook, so I usually add the veggies and ginger right away and let them all cook and bubble together over medium-high heat. I’ve added the kale after the squash so it keeps its curl, but I’m not convinced it really matters. You can cover the pot or not, just be sure to stir every 5 or 10 minutes. Once the butternut squash is tender, the soup is ready.
- Be sure to add plenty of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon juice, and spices. Stir and taste, taste and stir.
- Some tasty alternatives to the veggies I listed above are: chunks of sweet potato, young broccoli, other squash varieties, sliced fennel sautéed with the onion, crushed garlic, and so much more.
- Serve in big bowls with warm, crusty bread and butter or a hunk of cheese. *And, beware of rogue ginger chunks. (I like them, others do not.)
Happy Holidays! May your days be merry and bright…