The great Mark Bittman has 7 Ways to Make Lentil Soup, and if you want to start out with making any of these, I think you will have a delicious meal when you are done.
An even easier version is this. Take this list of ingredients
- 1 cup of green lentils, rinced
- 1 can (28 oz) of stewed tomatoes
- 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 rib of celery, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tbps curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
Add them all to a slow cooker (4 quart / 4 litre) size or bigger, stir, then cook on low (8-10 hours) or high (4-5 hours). Remove bay leaves before serving. That’s it! Easy.
Now I say seven million ways to make lentil soup because you really can substitute greatly for very different soups. For example:
- this version has 4 cups of stock and 28 oz of tomatoes, compared to Bittman’s with 6 cups of stock. I think you can play around with the types of tomatoes (diced, plum) and the ratio of stock to tomatoes (only have a 14 oz can of tomatoes? Use it and go with 5 cups of stock)
- You can use most any root vegetable instead of the potatoes or carrots. Try turnips, parsnips, or yams. Replace the celery with celeriac. I don’t think red beets will work, but white beets might.
- Replace the onion with shallots or pearl onions.
- I didn’t have spices 10, 11 and 12, but I did have an Indian spice mix, so I used 3 Tbsp of that instead.
- Add some sriracha to make it spicy. Or dice up some jalapeno with the onion and toss it in. Red pepper flakes or some hot pepper sauce would also work.
- If you don’t need it vegetarian, try the different meats that Bittman suggests. Leftover or rotisserie chicken would also be good. Or take some out and put it in a pot with fish and poach the fish until it is cooked.
- Toss in some cooked pasta or cooked beans to make it more of a stew.
- Towards the end stir in some chopped greens like spinach or kale or other greens that will wilt in a warm liquid.
- At the end, add some wine vinegar to give it a bit of bite.
- Garnish with herbs, or a drop of pesto or salsa verde. Or stir in some tomato based salsa. (Again, do it to your own taste.)
The lentils and the stock make up the foundation of the soup. The rest is seasoning and vegetables (and possibly non vegetables). Feel free to experiment and make the soup your own (and use up the left overs in your fridge or pantry).