Vegetable Lentil Soup

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This weekend I celebrated Christmas with some of my closest girlfriends at my house around my (if-I-don’t-say-so-myself) beautiful Christmas tree, and I needed the perfect homey, warm, comforting meal to go along with it. I settled on a soup — there’s not much better than gathering in a warm house with people you love and a warm bowl of soup.

I picked this vegetable lentil soup from Barefoot Contessa because it sounded like the perfect comfort meal. It’s packed with veggies — carrots, celery, onion, leeks — plus delicious green lentils that make you not miss the meat at all, and cooking it low and slow really brings out the rich flavor. Finish it with a hit of olive oil and grated Parmesan, and you’ve got a bowlful of happiness. I served this with a salad and bread. Super simple and easy.

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The girls loved it! We drank wine, ate our weight in amazing Humboldt Fog cheese, opened our “secret Santa” gifts and did a lot of laughing. The perfect holiday celebration if you ask me!

TW’s Tips

  • When you clean the leeks, chop off the upper 2/3 of tough green and just keep the lower white/light green part. Cut in half and then across making half-moons. Leeks can get sandy and it’s hard to wash out the sand, so throw the half-moons in a medium bowl of water and swish them around to get the sand out. It will settle to the bottom of the bowl and you’ll be spared any gritty bites.
  • Don’t obsess about the size of your vegetable “dice.” Not worth it.
  • I love the finish with red wine vinegar — in fact, I put a tiny splash in each bowl when I serve it, in addition to the two tablespoons you add at the end.
  • When I was eating up the leftovers, I ran out of Parmesan and substituted Pecorino Romano — just as delish.
  • This makes a LOT — I served four of us for dinner, ate it for several nights for leftovers and still had so much that I froze a couple of quart bags of it. They’re the perfect two-serving size, so I can thaw them in the morning and have a great bowl of soup that night.

I love this time of year. And I wish you a warm, family- and friend-filled Christmas!

Vegetable Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound French green lentils
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
  • 3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

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