Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lentil Soup Worth Eating

The truth is I don't much care for beans. I *want* to like them, but for some reason, their appeal evades me. There are some exceptions, like homemade hummus (as long as you leave out the tahini), but for the most part, I avoid them. However, there has been a force battling me on the bean-liking, namely the frugal, "completion-obsessed" Heather who knows there has been a container of Lentils du Puy (French green lentils) on the shelf for a while and wants to use them up, even if she never buys them again.

I'm also into slow cooker recipes lately -- while I know I'm home working all the time, that doesn't mean I can spend all day in the kitchen (though I might want to) -- warm, easily prepared food seem to be exactly what I'm craving.

Last week, I made this lentil soup; no surprise, it's based on a Cooks Illustrated recipe that I adapted for the slow cooker. The soup is rich and delicious, and the lentils hold their shape (except those pureed by my handy immersion blender). I anticipated trying it, remembering how much I hate legumes and making my husband finish it off, but I think he'll just have to share the rest with me.

Lentil Soup
adapted from Cooks Illustrated

3 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion chopped fine
2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bay leaf
1/2 t dried thyme
1 C lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 t salt
ground black pepper
1/2 C dry white wine
4 1/2 C vegetable broth
1 1/2 C water
1 1/2 t balsamic vinegar
3 T minced fresh parsley

1. Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add onions and carrots to bacon fat and cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme and cook briefly.
2. Put onion mixture, lentils, salt and pepper into slow cooker and cook on low for about an hour.
3. Increase heat on slow cooker to high and add wine, with lid slightly ajar (30 minutes or so, depending on your cooker).
4. Once the mixture has come to a simmer, add broth and water and return to a simmer, with lid still slightly ajar.
5. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 6 hours, or until lentils are tender.
6. Remove bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to blend some, but not all of the soup to the desired consistancy.
7. Add vinegar and allow to cook on high for about 30 minutes.
8. Stir in parsley and serve.

This soup freezes well -- I always save the quart sized Chinese soup containers for this very purpose. If you decide to freeze the soup, add the vinegar when you reheat the soup.

For anyone who cares, there are 3 Weight Watchers points per 1 cup serving.


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