Tiny Kitchen Magic: It’s (Lentil) Soup Season!

Midtown Oyster Bar

I absolutely love this time of year. I prefer sweaters over shorts.  I prefer falling leaves over sweat falling from my body.  What I also love about this time of year is that it is officially soup season!!  Now is when we make the soups to warm our bodies and our souls.  This lentil soup recipe right here is guaranteed to do just that.

A lot of people have never eaten a lentil, which is a crying shame. Lentils are fantastic. They are a great source of protein.  They are crazy inexpensive, especially when you buy them dry, which I suggest you do.  They are versatile.  You can make soup, make a lentil salad, make just lentils as a side.  One year, when my poor, misguided brother went through his unfortunate vegan phase, I made a vegan shepherd’s pie which used brown lentils and mushrooms instead of ground beef.  They are AMAZING! 

Also, buying beans and grains dry instead of in cans will get you much more for your money.  They will also be much tastier and much fresher as long as you store them in an airtight container. 

This recipe calls for brown lentils, which is the most common type of lentil found in supermarkets.  You can probably use green lentils as well.  But, yeah, here are my lentils!  Feast your eyes on these!

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Look at those tiny nuggets of flavor and protein! For this soup, you’re going to need a touch over a cup of them along with the following ingredients:

  • 1+ cup of brown lentils (Just slightly over)
  • 4 cups reduced sodiumchicken broth (Substitute vegetable broth to make vegan)
  • 1 14.5 Oz can diced tomatoes (and juice inside!)
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ – ½ cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Yield – 4 good sized servings

Get a large soup pot or, as I like to use, a large Dutch oven and put it over medium heat.  Add the oil and let it get to temperature.  Add the veggies and the dry spices and cook until carrots have a little color and onions are translucent. This should take 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute until you start to smell the garlic.  Adding the spices now allows them to cook a bit in the oil and really amplifies their flavor.  Also, if you’re a masochist like me, do the ½ tsp of cayenne.  It’ll be fun.  If you’re not a fan of spice, then go for the lower end.

When you smell the garlic, throw in the lentils and toss for a few seconds with everything.  Add the can of tomatoes and the stock. Bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer, cover and let go for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes your lentils are done cooking, BUT, your soup is not quite finished.  I know, it’s a bit of a tease, but if you skip this next step your soup will not reach its final form.  While it is tasty it lacks…body. SO what you want to do is take about a third of the soup and blend it in a blender (or with an immersion blender if you’re fancy like that).  Pour the blended lentils back into the pot and stir until incorporated.   The blended lentils and vegetables will give the soup more substance and texture.  Trust me, don’t skip this step.

But wait, there’s more!  I haven’t mentioned salt and pepper yet and there’s a reason for that.  When you are cooking something like this, you do not want to add salt to the liquid early on.  If you add salt too early, the water goes away while you cook, the salt concentrates, and you’re eating a bowl of soup made with seawater.  Nobody wants that. Season to taste with the S&P when you’re done cooking. Remember, that stock will have salt in it, so don’t go crazy seasoning. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe.  Before you click away, I’d like to say one thing. I’ve taken it pretty easy on you folks for the first three recipes, doing some pretty simple stuff. This was intentional. Worry not, I’m going to start doing a bit more complicated recipes here and there, starting with next month.  I just wanted to get you rolling before I ripped the training wheels off and sent you crashing into the bushes.  Thanks for reading and see you in December!

P.S. I love you, vegans!!

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Jay Flanders is a native of Newport and avid cook. While he studied at the University of Rhode Island, he also attended the College of Food Network via his television set where he learned the basics of cooking. Also being an all-too-avid eater at restaurants, he really began to learn what ingredients went together, cooking techniques and other tips and tricks in the kitchen. He used that knowledge to teach himself how to cook and how to start making his own recipes. Now, he’s here to give you his tips, tricks and sometimes uniquely tasty spins on recipes and to show you that great cooking can be done is the tiniest of kitchens like his.