Herbed Lentil and Early Carrot Soup
July 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
So, it’s July and the local produce is getting bonkers, but here I am presenting soup. Let me explain. The weather in the Northwest is nothing like the weather in the rest of the country right now. All I am hearing about is heatwaves, droughts and wildfires. Up here, though, we have had just a handful of 80+ degree days, none of which have been in July. Many days are cloudy and rainy, and more often it is pleasantly breezy, in the upper fifties. Sweater weather. The weather you look forward to at the end of August. Soup weather.
So while this might be a cooler weather recipe, I am taking advantage of the produce of the moment. Early carrots, also known as real baby carrots, are beautiful. Crisp tender. Sweet and full of flavor. And we use these a little bit differently than the storage carrots we find in the winter, cooking lightly at the end rather than sweating with the onion at the beginning. The carrots used here happen to be an heirloom variety which are purple, yellow, golden and orange. While I am also loving green beans, raspberries, new potatoes, zucchini, radishes and other items that are truly only available around this time, these particular carrots will not be the same in a few months and must (also) be enjoyed now.
I also used some of the herbs thriving in my garden to flavor this soup and they led to something magical happening. The aroma triggered sensory memories of my great-grandmother’s pasta and bean soup. She passed away over five years ago and her recipes went with her, but occasionally particular combinations of flavors bring me back to the food she shared with me. This is particularly overwhelming when I have prepared the food which leads to the trigger. A personal connection to this soup is not necessary for enjoyment though; Matt, a lentil and tarragon skeptic, has enjoyed it as much as I have. The aroma is put together in such a way that you cannot quite discern any particular flavor, but the combined effort is just incredible. I have showered leftovers with parmesan on one occasion and pecorino on another, but I enjoy and appreciate the soup more when it is left vegan.
Two notes: If you cannot find savory try substituting a combination of thyme and oregano or marjoram. The amount of oil used may seem like a lot but once it has emulsified through the simmering process, it creates an amazing mouth-feel. It is important that you don’t cook the aromatics at too high of a heat before adding the liquid and lentils due to the lower smoke point of good-quality olive oil.
1 year ago, today: Summer Squash and Fenugreek Curry
Herbed Lentil and Early Carrot Soup:
adapted from The First Mess
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 cups prepared tomato sauce, recipe below
- 2 cups french green lentils
- 6 cups stock
- 1 lb (without greens) early carrots, thinly sliced
- 4-5 sprigs savory (substitute with thyme, oregano or marjoram or ideally a combination of these if you cannot find savory)
- 4-5 sprigs tarragon
- salt & pepper
Heat oil over a medium-low heat in a large pot and slowly cook the onion until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high and add garlic, paprika, thyme and red pepper flakes, saute a minute or so longer or until aromatic. Add tomato sauce and lentils and stir to incorporate. Add stock and bring to a boil and then simmer covered for about 15 minutes. Add carrots and fresh herbs and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes longer or until lentils are tender but still firm.
this makes a larger batch than needed for the recipe, but I always keep tomato sauce in the refrigerator for pizzas and recipes that call for a prepared tomato sauce. This simple sauce can be substituted with your own preferred prepared tomato sauce
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper
Saute onion over a medium heat in a bit of oil until softened. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and dried oregano and saute until aromatic. Add tomato paste, stirring to incorporate. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, down to a simmer. Stir occasionally, simmering for as long as time permits up to two hours. Transfer to a blender in batches to puree and season to taste.