In the same episode of Barefoot Contessa with the yummy grilled tuna rolls, she made a delicious looking lentil vegetable soup, so I decided to try it at home. Her recipes always make WAY too much, so I halved it. Good thinking, since there are only 3 of us. Plenty for dinner and several leftover lunches. This is the full recipe. If you go for it, make sure you have a BIG pot.
Lentil Vegetable Soup
- 1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
- 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
- 3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
- 3 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick (optional)
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
- Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
DirectionsIn a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
The version on the episode was semi-vegetarian, meaning there was chicken broth, but no kielbasa. When I looked it up online, I found this recipe, which aside from the sausage, is exactly the same. I started out making just the veggie version, but then I thought it might not be filling enough, so I added the kielbasa. Verdict? The kielbasa was good, but I think I would have preferred the soup without, and maybe sausage on the side. Maya agreed. Ted liked it in the soup. So it’s a personal decision.
The keys to making this a delicious recipe, I think, are the vinegar, cheese, and the olive oil. The vinegar gives the soup a certain something that it would otherwise lack. Almost any soup is better with a bit of good Parmesan cheese on top. And the drizzle of fruity, really nice olive oil I got at our farmers’ market a few weeks ago took the recipe from good to REALLY good.