From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Yesterday, we celebrated the rites of spring at a daffodil festival in a neighboring town. The weather was glorious, the sun was warm and the fragrance of grape muscari drifted across the field. It was a perfect spring day. However, I live in Oregon, and that was yesterday. Today, the weather blustered and flustered and tried to blow the house down. The Silver Fox and I were expected at a pot luck on the coast and we had hoped that yesterday's balmy weather would be repeated and contribute to the bonhomie promised by the collective meal that had been planned for today. I originally intended to make a very large salad as my contribution, but soup seemed to make more sense as large hail bounced off our back deck. I chose this soup because it is so easy to make. I also had the ingredients I need to prepare it on hand and it didn't take forever to cook. This is a bit lighter than most winter bean soups and due to the balsamic vinegar that's added at the end of cooking it has a uniquely delicious flavor. I tripled the recipe and pulled out every storage container in the kitchen to get it to Reedsport and the party. On the way to the coast I did cheat a bit - make that a lot. Working on the theory that you can't serve soup without bread or crackers, I stopped at Trader Joe's and bought their last 4 loaves of sourdough bread. Cutting right to the chase, you will like this soup. Many of you will like it a lot. I'd like to suggest you add the balsamic vinegar which is added at the end of cooking a teaspoon at a time. It makes a delicious addition, but a heavy hand with the vinegar can actually spoil the soup. Two teaspoons works well for me and mine. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. Here is how this unusual lentil soup is made.
French Lentil Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Bon Appetite
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery stalks + chopped celery leaves for garnish
1 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons cloves, chopped
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1-1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
1) Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
2) Add 4 cups broth, lentils, and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
3) Transfer 2 cups soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan, thinning soup with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with celery leaves. Yield: 6 servings.
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