Holy yum. This is one of the most delicious things to have ever come out of my kitchen. I don’t know what made it so good, but it made me want to make it every day until winter ends, and maybe even after that. When I ate it, I froke out. The first thing I said after I took a bite was, “IT TASTES BUTTERY.” And anything that can taste BUTTERY when the only animal product is 4 pieces of bacon–160 calories spread out over a whole pot of soup–is a win in my book.
(Yes, I know bacon isn’t vegetarian; if you don’t eat meat, you can also just saute the veggies in olive oil. But I advise that you just use bacon, just this once, because it’s delicious, and you’ll probably just end your vegetarianism in a two-month meat-eating massacre like my roommate Jeff. And eating a tiny piece of bacon is better than secretly hoarding a KFC 10-piece and buying nightly rotisserie chickens.)
This recipe is the reason why I wanted to do the cookbooks series (okay, besides the fact that it forces me to post even when I’m feeling lazy): because I have a humongous stack of cookbooks with a total of a bajillion unread recipes that can produce amazing results like these. The food-blogosphere has such a wealth of great cooking tips, recipes, and drool-worthy photographs, but there’s nothing like opening up a 20-year-old cookbook with oil splotches and yellowed pictures. (Though admittedly, this recipe came from a 2-year-old cookbook written by a self-described “naturopath” a.k.a. “hippie.”)
I took this cookbook’s recipe for “Lovely Lentils” and another similar recipe by Klutzy Chef. I drew off both of them, then added sriracha and peas — sriracha because I didn’t have any harissa, which is a hot chili sauce; peas because the book’s picture of this soup had green lentils that looked like peas, which made me want to put peas in it, which turned out to be a great decision. I also blended the majority of the soup instead of just 3 cups, and the result was a creamier, thicker consistency that almost reminded me of curry. I liked the thickness; Preston would have liked more whole lentils. Do it how you like. Just make the soup. It has vegetables. It has protein. It has fiber. IT TASTES BUTTERY. Please make the soup.
Spicy Lentil Soup, heavily adapted from Super Duper Soups by Michael van Straten. Made a pretty huge pot — we had 2 bowls each, plus a bowl for leftovers, plus a hefty container that went into the freezer.
4-5 pieces of bacon, chopped (or, for the veg crowd, a couple tbsp. olive oil)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/8-1/4 inch thin
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 c. lentils (I used 1/4 c. red and 3/4 c. brown, but I don’t think that matters)
1 can diced tomatoes
4 1/2 c. stock
1 c. water
about 2/3 tbsp. dried thyme
1-2 tbsp. sriracha sauce (optional)
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1.5 tsp. balsamic vinegar
about 1-2 c. frozen spinach and about 1 c. frozen peas? However much you want.
Fry bacon over medium-high heat to render fat. Add onions and carrots, and drizzle with about 1 tbsp. olive oil (I’m not sure this is necessary, but the book told me to add 3 tbsp., so I compromised). Saute until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic, and saute for about a minute more. Add the diced tomatoes, including the juice, as well as the thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in the lentils until they are covered in oil and fat. Cover, and let it hang out for about 4-5 minutes on medium-low or low heat.
Uncover. Add broth, water, and sriracha. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Blend the soup in a blender or using an immersion blender (again, however much you want — more blended = thicker; less blended = broth-ier). Transfer blended soup back to the pot. Add the balsamic vinegar and frozen spinach + peas (you may want to nuke the frozen veg, and obviously, you can also use fresh spinach + peas). Heat until warmed through. Serve with quinoa, rice, or another grain.
Oh hey by the way, check out this HOMEMADE chocolate syrup Preston made tonight. Who knew you could do that by yourself? He’s been cooking a lot lately. He made meatloaf, black-eyed peas, AND cabbage the other night. Almost makes up for his refusal to watch Josie and the Pussycats with me. Can someone please tell him how cinematically mind-blowing this film is?!?