September 4, 2009

lentil soup variation

Having made a simpler version of lentil soup several times, I was happy to find this chunkier and more filling variation of this classic soup to try. I used dried brown lentils which are sold alongside dried beans in most grocery stores. Rinse them well then drain. They don't need to be soaked in water and pre-cooked, making them more convenient to use. If using chopped ham for flavor, brown them first in olive oil. I decided to skip the ham this time so I started off with the usual combination of minced garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes, sauteeing them well together in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rinsed and drained lentils. This soup may be made vegetarian by just adding water, but I added some chicken broth for more flavor. Season with paprika, salt and pepper to taste. When the lentils are half-cooked, diced carrots may be added. Simmer over low heat until lentils and carrots are fully cooked and tender. Lastly, stir in chopped frozen or fresh spinach [chopped kale or other greens may be substituted] and some additional chopped fresh tomatoes. To complete our meal, I served this with some falafels and yogurt dip. This particular lentil soup version reminded me of a similar soup we often make in the Philippines using green mung beans and bitter melon leaves in place of the spinach. I thought about it the very next day and had some steamed rice to go with the leftover soup.

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