Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Lentil soup | January 27, 2009

Soup, how I love thee!  Let me count the ways…

One: you are warm and comforting when the weather is cold.

Two: when I am sicky sickerson (which I have been for the past three days), you make me feel slightly less like battered ass.

Three: when homemade, you are a relatively low-calorie meal that is healthy yet satisfying.

Four: contrary to popular belief, you are not complicated to make.

I could go on, but I think you get the drift–yes, it’s soup week here at Trouble With Toast!  The stars aligned, and the circumstances seemed perfect to focus on recipes that can cure your ills, help trim your waistline, and make you feel warm and cuddly in the cruelest of winter months.

Let’s start with one of my favorites, an underappreciated powerhouse of nutrition and flavor.  Lentils contain high levels of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  They have a nutty, earthy flavor that pairs well with many veggies and starches.  And bonus–they’re cheap!  You can buy a bag of dried lentils for about a buck, and they’ll last in your pantry forever (just keep in mind that the older they are, the longer they’ll need to cook to get tender).  This recipe, which I adapted slightly from “Good Food Fast,” is pretty straightforward and uses ingredients that should be standard in every kitchen.  The vinegar at the end is a great touch, and you can certainly adjust the amount based on your personal taste.  Just a couple of notes: 1) if you want to make this a true vegetarian soup, omit the bacon (duh), cook the veggies in olive oil, and use vegetable broth; 2) the cooking time will depend on how old your lentils are, so continually taste them and make sure they’re to your liking before cutting off the heat; and 3) if you find that the soup is getting too thick, just add more water till you achieve your preferred consistency.


  • 3 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a Dutch oven (or other 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute. Add lentils, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.



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