One of my favorite meals during the week is lentil soup. It's hearty, healthy, and not heavy on the waistline. We generally don't eat huge meals during the week. And, when I've gotten tired of eating salads and cold foods from the summer, one of the first soups I like to transition to is lentil soup.
A few years ago I came across a great recipe from Cooking Light for Mediterranean Lentil and Tomato Soup (
Three Soups You'll Love). It is a great recipe with a tomato sauce and water base, seasoned with dill and a bay leaf. I still love the recipe, but I've found myself tweaking it here and there to add a little more flavor and richness in the soup. Last night, I think I cooked my best batch yet.
I kept the tomato-themed base but I wanted it to come out a little saucier and rich. Instead of tomato sauce, I added a larger can (28-ounce) of tomato puree, which made the soup a bit thicker in texture and definitely more tomato-flavored. I also replaced the water with chicken broth and added in a much smaller amount of water.
For spices, I thought it would be interesting to add a little coriander and paprika just to spice it up. The original recipe calls for dill, which is definitely a nice surprise when you taste the soup. However, adding the coriander and paprika in addition to the dill made the soup more complex in flavor and paired nicely with the saltiness of the feta and balsamic vinegar topping.
All in all, I am most pleased with my new twist on lentil soup. The thicker and tastier version with the addition of parsnips and pearled couscous was a filling meal that satisfied my infinite need for flavorful "light" weeknight dinner.
Hearty Lentil Soup
from Food Therapy
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ Purple Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Celery, chopped
1 Parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 ½ cups dried green lentils
3 ½ cups chicken broth (use Vegetable broth for vegetarian)
1 cup water
¼ to ½ cup pearl couscous
2 bay leaves
1 28-oz. can tomato puree
Crumbled feta, optional
Balsamic Vinegar, optional
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for five minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and parsnip. Saute for another 5 minutes.
Add the salt, paprika, dill, and coriander. Continue to saute for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the remaining ingredients. Allow the mixture to come to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the temperature to low and cover. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes.
Spoon into bowls and top with crumbled feta and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, if you so choose.