Comfort foods are some of life's small pleasures and nothing is better in the dead of winter than a bowl of delicious Lentil soup. With snow falling and fierce winds howling outside you may find yourself stuck indoors. This is a good time to make soup and lentils are so easy to prepare. They do not need to soak overnight, like other dried legumes, but only rinsed well.
Like any good soup, fresh vegetables are the key to great flavor and taste. Finely diced carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, and garlic are the fresh ingredients needed. In a large soup pot add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion (1 cup), carrot, celery (1/2 cup each), garlic (1 tablespoon finely diced), and salt (pinch) and sweat until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add in the lentils, tomatoes (1 cup), broth (2 quarts of chicken or vegetable), and ground cumin (a small pinch) and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 45 minutes. Serve immediately with your choice of shredded or grated cheese and croutons or oyster crackers.
Comfort can also be found by using a slow cooker. This will result in a thicker soup depending on how long you let it cook. In either scenario leftover potatoes can be diced and added in to the soup. Cooked sausage pieces can be added in as well. The beauty of soup is that there is very little you can do wrong in adding in additional ingredients. The only exception is adding too much salt. So have some soup and have some fun preparing it just the way you like. Enjoy!