Yesterday when I cleaned out and organized my pantry, I found lots of surprises: my St. Patrick’s Day napkins that I thought I’d lost, a bottle of truffle oil that I didn’t know I had (score!), baking soda that expired in 2009, something that at one time had been a hamburger bun, and three bags of lentils, all of which were opened. While to some people this may suggest complete disarray and a lack of organization, to me this suggested only one thing: it’s time to make lentil soup!
This soup is thick, like a stew, and it’s also very budget-friendly. A whole pound of lentils costs about a buck. I bought the canned tomatoes on sale for $1.00, the onion cost 32 cents, two bulk carrots cost 25 cents, and the celery cost 1.32 for the whole bunch. (I only used three stalks). The potato, olive oil, thyme, garlic and broth I already had on hand, but you see where I’m going with this. For around five dollars, you can make a rich, hearty, healthy soup that will fill up your family. I still have lots of lentils left, but now they’re occupying a place of honor at the front of the pantry. Over the next week I’ll be making lentil loaf and trying some other lentil soup recipes that I’ve had my eye on.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices (I used fire-roasted)
- 1¼ cups lentils (any color except red), rinsed
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 2 ounces spinach leaves (about ½ a bunch) optional
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add potato, ½ tsp of salt and pepper, broth, water and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices and the lentils and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then cover, turn heat to low and simmer covered for about 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- Taste and season with more salt or pepper as needed, then stir in the vinegar. Add the spinach (if using) and stir until wilted. Let the soup cool a bit and then purée half of the soup in a blender or food processor and add it back to the pot.