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    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Surprisingly Un-Stoic Organic Lentil Soup

    The words "lentil soup" aren't exactly awe-inspiring, but this soup recipe is. The first time I made it, I couldn't believe what a delicious and complex flavour it rendered. I could not stop eating it! Just amazing what a little bacon can do. The thyme plays a very important role in tying all the ingredients together and the greens and parsley add a nice freshness to brighten the lentil-y colour.


    This dish is great served immediately, but it gets better after a day in the fridge when the flavours have had a chance to meld. I try my best to use organic ingredients wherever possible. Try to use sea salt instead of table salt and you'll notice the difference in flavour (as well as the added benefits of micro-nutrrients from the ocean.) I'm a garlicky person so I go heavy on it.You can add 3 cloves if you're after a milder flavour. If you want to make a vegan version, simply replace the bacon fat with olive oil, omit the cream, and use veggie stock.


    If you're serving the soup immediately, follow the recipe as outlined below. Sometimes I'll make a batch and split it into smaller portions to take to work. In these cases, I'll leave out the spinach or kale until I reheat it so it doesn't get too wilty.


    Ingredients
    3 strips bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces (for good quality organic meats, try Sanagan's in Kensington Market or Cumbrae's)
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 medium organic carrots, peeled, halved and chopped into crescents
    6 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
    1 1/2 cups of organic lentils, checked over and rinsed
    1/2 teaspoon organic dried thyme
    4 cups of organic veggie or chicken stock
    2 cups of water
    1 tablespoon organic red-wine vinegar (Eden's has a great one)
    2 cups of chopped organic kale or spinach
    1/2 cup of organic cream, or evaporated milk
    water to thin soup, as needed
    1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
    Sea salt
    Freshly ground pepper


    Method

    1. In a heavy-bottom pot with a tight-fitting lid, cook bacon over medium heat until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Reserve about a tablespoon of fat. Remove the rest, along with the bacon. Set aside...or not. My bacon usually winds up as a "chef's treat" if you catch my drift.
    2. Add onion and carrots; cook until softened for about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic until you can smell the pungent aroma, less than a minute. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 more minute.
    3. Add lentils, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. I usually puree half the soup in a blender because I like a thicker texture. You can do this or leave this step out. If the soup is too thick, add a little water to thin it out. Return blended soup to pot.
    4. Add kale or spinach. Wilt in the warmth.
    5. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add cream. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley

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