I have been trying to get around to making Greek lentil soup for a month now. Today was the day. I added lots of soup vegetables to compliment the lentils. I used parsnip and leeks which are not found in traditional versions of Greek lentil soup, but why not amplify its flavor a bit? The amount of tomato used depends on the cook. If you like a really strong lentil flavor, cut down on some of the tomatoes and tomato paste. If you like tomatoes, use them. The important thing is that anyway it's cooked, lentil soup is always fragrant and tastes oh so good. Lentils are very high in protein, dietary fiber, thiamine and iron. They are a very healthy food. Be sure to always soak lentils before cooking. An hour or maybe two is good. Soaking not only makes them softer for cooking, but also increases their nutritional potency.
2 cups green lentils
2 medium size tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
optional - some grated Pecorino Romano cheese such as "Locatelli," to top the soup, if you're like me and do not like vinegar
- Pick over the lentils to make sure there are no small rocks or other debris mixed in. Rinse them and place them in a large bowl. Cover them with water. Let them sit in the water for about one hour. Drain and reserve for use in the soup. You'll notice that as the lentils soak and absorb water they will start to turn greener than they were in their dry state.
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy Dutch oven and sauté one of the onions, the leeks, and the garlic for 10 minutes. (You may think we are using a lot of leeks and onions, but you'll see that they will decrease in volume as they are being sautéed). Turn off the heat.
- Add the other onion, the celery, parsnip, tomatoes, carrots, thyme, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Mix well
- Add the lentils (drained), and mix well.
- Add the 6 cups of stock, the tomato paste, and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, turn on the heat and bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. If the heat is on low and you are using a heavy Dutch oven, you don't even need to lift the lid and stir the soup. Just let it simmer and perfume the house with its beautiful aroma!
- After an hour check on the soup, give it a good stir and add the oregano. Taste it and season with more salt and pepper if needed. It will probably need to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- At the end of the cooking time add the rest of the parsley. You may need to add more stock or some water to bring the soup to the consistency that you prefer.
- Serve the lentil soup hot. Offer some vinegar at the table because it's a tradition to top the soup with vinegar. In our house there are two camps: pro lentils with vinegar and anti lentils with vinegar. I belong to the latter camp. I don't care for vinegar, but I do love cheese, so I top my soup with a little grated Parmesan. That's not traditional, but... hey, this is my recipe!.
- I made a simple salad to go with the lentils:
- One English cucumber peeled and sliced, half a red onion, and some olives. Place in a bowl and mix. I mixed it so well, that the olives can't be seen in the picture! Trust me, they are in there.
- Top with feta cheese cut into chunks and season with olive oil, your favorite vinegar (or use lemon juice or a combination of the two), black pepper and oregano. No salt in this salad, since there is salt in the feta cheese and the olives.
I am linking this post to Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen. Every Sunday, Deb, from “Kahakai Kitchen” has a round up of contributed posts featuring recipes of soup, salad or sandwiches.