There is something so comforting about soup on a rainy day. I don’t know what it is but soup possesses a magic quality about it that comforts me from the inside out. A belly full of hot soup, crusty bread and a nice green salad gives me the fortitude to face whatever crappy weather Mother Nature throws at you.
Even though I am no longer in culinary school, the CIA did arm with me with a multitude of basic recipes that I can morph to make my own. One of the recipes that I loved from the first time I made it in school is purée of lentil soup (albeit Chef D. said it needed more salt, but I digress…). Normally, I don’t like lentils because I find them to be little nuggets of pasty blandness. This version of the recipe is close to the original from The Professional Chef but with some slight modifications to give more depth of flavors.
Puree of Lentil Soup
Makes 4-6 servings (2 quarts)
– 3 oz medium-dice thick cut bacon
– 4 oz onion
– 2 oz carrots
– 2 oz celery
– 10 oz brown lentils
– 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
– 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 2 oz croutons (optional)
– crème fraîche (optional)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 tablespoon chervil, minced (optional)
– Render bacon in medium pot over low heat. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel. Reserve bacon for garnish.
– Add olive oil to pot with bacon fat along with onions, celery and carrots. Cook until tender and slightly browned.
– Add lentils and allow them to become lightly toasted (you can smell them). Add stock, salt & pepper and bring to simmer for 30-45 minutes until lentils are soft. Skim off any dark froth that may rinse to the surface.
– Strain mixture, reserving broth. Place lentils in blender, adding enough broth to achieve desired consistency.
– Return soup to pot, add vinegar & cayenne pepper, heating through.
– Garnish with crème fraîche, croutons, bacon and minced chervil.
– Croutons: I am all about ease, but I really hate store-bought croutons. Fortunately, it is really easy to make croutons. Cube a cup of dense white bread with crusts removed (aka not Wonder Bread), melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small sauté pan and cook until the bread is nicely browned. Remove croutons and place on a paper towel, sprinkle immediately with salt.
– You can substitute half a lemon for the 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar if you prefer.
– Bacon: Not all bacon is equal. Purchase the best bacon you can afford. I like thick, center cut bacon which tends to have a good amount of flavor and fat, both important in this recipe.