February’s Third Thursday: A Little Lentil Love February 17, 2011Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff.
Wow – February! Can you believe another month has gone by so quickly, and it’s already the Third Thursday of February? Valentine’s Day is over (not that we really celebrate it, but still), and we’re just about on the down-hill slope of winter – before we know it, soups and stews will be out, and the grill and the smoker will be in again.
And I’m going to confess – this recipe for Lentil-Bacon soup isn’t technically from a blog – it’s from a newsletter. Close enough, right?
I don’t even remember when I started subscribing to the newsletter for Macrina Bakery, but I’ve been receiving their monthly newsletter-with-a-recipe for a lot of months now. I don’t always save the recipe (really, when am I ever going to make a Bittersweet Chocolate Gateau? Or maybe the question should be – should I EVER make such a thing?), but I’ve got a few. And since they only show up by email once a month (rather than, say, two or three times a day), they’re easy to read through, then save or delete.
In addition to the standard onions, garlic, celery and carrots, I even had a nearly-forgotten bulb of fennel knocking around in the fridge.
This really was the perfect recipe for us!
I essentially followed the original recipe as written, with a couple of minor exceptions.
First, I pretty much doubled the bacon. Heh.
Actually, it called for 5 regular slices of bacon; I used something like 7 thick slices. Close enough, right?
Because the bacon was a little thicker than “standard,” I went ahead and started that at the beginning of cooking, then added the onions, carrots, fennel and celery.
Besides, cooking the onions with the bacon fat meant less extra oil to be added.
Those aromatics (plus bacon) were essentially steamed – the lid was left mostly on the pot, just barely tilted, until the veggies were softened.
Now, if I were to do this again, I’d actually render the fat from the bacon, remove it, and saute the vegetables – I don’t think I’d steam them like that. But this worked out, too.
And of course, while the onions, et al were cooking and getting soft, I worked on my knife skills with a mess of garlic.
Much like bacon, a little extra garlic is seldom a bad thing. Plus, the old knife skills can always use work.
We were fortunate, that weekend, to be enjoying minimal snow – I was able to dig some thyme out of the garden, rather than resort to dried, which I hate. Thyme is good like that – if you can find it, even under the snow, it’s usable. Not like that wimpy old marjoram. . . first sign of frost, and it’s done.
Speaking of thyme. Did you ever wonder why so many recipes tell you to use “chopped fresh thyme?”
I mean, once you scrape the wee little thyme leaves off the stems, how much chopping is there really to be done? It’s not like thyme is coarse and woody like rosemary can be. Or huge actual leaves, like basil.
So anyway, onions, carrots, bacon, fennel, celery, then some garlic and thyme – all soft – and then I added about half a cup of dry white wine and let that simmer and reduce by about half. It was kind of hard to judge, because we did have a lot of liquid in the pot from “steaming” the prior vegetables.
Yet another reason to simply saute them, I think.
Anyway, THEN I added a can of petite-diced tomatoes, drained.
If they’d been in season, I’d certainly have used fresh tomatoes, but I don’t buy tomatoes. I especially don’t buy tomatoes between November and July.
I guess you could say I’m a tomato snob. If they’re not garden fresh, they don’t come into my kitchen. End of discussion.
Hey, look, we’re finally getting to the lentils in the lentil soup!
I added a cup of plain old brown lentils, along with 6 cups of liquid – in this case, I used a quart of chicken stock and 2 cups of water.
My chicken stock has been . . . robust lately. Yeah, that’s the word. Robust. Vegetable stock would work as well.
And really, that’s about it. We let it simmer for about an hour to make sure the vegetables and lentils were well and truly done.
And then, of course, we cooled the soup and refrigerated it overnight (or three nights) until Wednesday, which is always soup night.
And the verdict?
The soup was good. There are a few things I’d definitely do differently – as noted above – and I definitely needed to be sure to season as I went along, but overall, it was a nice lentil soup.
I know, that doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it? But really, it’s lentils and vegetables, and that’s just what it tasted like. I especially liked the addition of fennel – but I love me some fennel! All in all, it’s a warm, hearty soup for a winter evening – healthy and tasty. I’d be happy to eat it again. And if you want to try it for yourself, here’s the original printable version.
Of course, if you’d like to play along with our Third Thursday challenge, leave a comment with a link to (or description of) your Third Thursday project – tell us what you’re up to! For loose guidelines, or if you want to check out some past Thursdays, they’re right here.