Dinner at Home

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit: Red Lentil Soup

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

This is one of those recipes that I have to confess I came up with by throwing together pantry ingredients when I was looking for a quick and easy supper to make. I had some red lentils leftover from another recipe and thought, “What can I do with those?” A quick look around and I saw a can of diced tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs and the usual mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) and thought they’d make a great hearty soup, especially in the slow-cooker, which really shines for cooking beans.

The soup (or stew—it’s thick) was amazing, if I do say so myself. Very flavorful and even better when reheat it a day or two later. I also had some Irish banger sausages in the freezer that I threw in, but you could substitute a different kind of sausage and still come up with a great main course soup. You could even go vegetarian—just leave out the meat and swap the chicken stock for vegetable.

½ onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced (or do what I do—use baby carrots already peeled and ready)
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best, but who has time for that?)
2 cups red lentils (I suppose another color would suffice too)
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
½ lb. sausage (I used bangers, but a good chicken sausage or Andouille, would also work well—just, for God’s sake—don’t use breakfast links)
Salt and pepper to taste (I am generous with my S&P); the best way to do salt and pepper is be conservative at the start of the recipe and taste and adjust just before serving.

Really, this couldn’t be easier. Simply dump all the above into a slow cooker, stir, cover and set to low for 8-9 hours. The great thing about dried lentils is they need no pre-soaking or prep (you might want to pick through quickly to make sure there are no stones mixed in).

At the end of cooking, remove sausage, halve lengthwise, then slice, and return to soup.
(Serves 4-6)

I served with grated cheese and more freshly ground black pepper. A loaf of crusty bread is almost a must-have with this.

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