Ah, with the chill of fall eminently setting in, there's nothing quite like a big pot of warm, simple, cozy soup.
On top of the weather turning gray, I've been turning a little... well, under the weather. All the more reason to make soup - an easy, comforting meal even a sickie like me can handle throwing together on a weeknight. Delicious doesn't get much better than that.
I started out with the intention of making a lentil soup, but as it turned out it became more of a 'clean-out-the-fridge' soup. I didn't measure a thing - a little of this, a little of that - easy. The formula is simple: whatever veggies you have on hand, plus beans, plus lentils, plus heat, equals YUM. Add to that, it's healthy!
Here's what I did, but feel free to swap or add veggies, use different kinds of lentils or beans, change around the spices... you get the idea.
Oh, and did I mention it's vegan? Well, unless you add bacon, of course.
Bean and Lentil Soup
1 cup lentils, I used brown
1.5 cups beans, I used black and pinto
a couple stalks of celery
a few carrots
an onion (I used half an onion, because it's what I had in the fridge)
a couple fistfulls of fresh spinach (or kale would have been nice! Again - cleaning out the fridge, here)
one 14oz can of diced tomatoes
2-3 cups vegetable broth
4-5 cloves garlic
~1 TBSP cumin
~2 tsp. powdered ginger
~1 TBSP dried basil
~2 tsp. dried thyme
~1/2 tsp. cayanne pepper (optional)
~ 1 tsp. paprika
1 bay leaf
Olive oil (or bacon, though that would ruin the whole meat-free aspect)
First, cook the beans (or un-can them) and get the lentils going in a pot. Rinse them first, then cover them with a couple cups of water, add a heavy pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until almost tender. They'll cook a little longer with the rest of the soup, so don't turn them to mush here.
While the lentils are going, chop all the veggies either small or medium dice. Keep the potato chunks small, as they'll take the longest to cook.
If you're using bacon, heat a skillet (or do everything in a dutch oven, like I did) and cook the bacon. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.
If you're not using bacon, add a couple TBSP olive oil to the pan, or the bottom of a dutch oven or large pot, and add the veggies.
Toss in a big pinch of salt, and saute on medium-high for five or ten minutes, until things just start softening up. Then add the garlic (minced) and spices. Stir around and cook for just a minute or two, until fragrant.
Add the can of tomatoes, and 1-2 cups vegetable broth (you can add more later, as needed).
Add in the cooked beans and lentils, and bring to a simmer. Chop up the spinach, and the bacon if you're using it, and add it to the pot.
Add more vegetable broth if necessary, and cook for 25-35 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and the soup is the desired consistency. I like it pretty thick, but if you want it thinner just add more broth.
Remove the bay leaf, taste and adjust seasoning, and serve hot - perhaps with some nice crusty bread.
Mmmm... crusty bread...
...I wish I had some.
But hey, I can't complain. I've got soup!
Try to contain your excitement, here - I dove right in and burned my tongue. The temperature didn't slow me down, but that's because I think with my stomach, not my brain. Use your brain, folks.
This made a nice big pot full of wonderful, but it was so good that there wasn't much in terms of left-overs. If you do wind up with enough left for more than the next day's lunch, it freezes well and can be thawed and reheated at a moment's notice. Now that's easy weeknight cooking!
What are some of your favorite things to add to your soup?