Hearty Lentil Soup with Veggies

It feels like a comfort food kind of day and nothing says comfort better than a hearty pot of homemade lentil soup.

When my boys were younger, a friend and I used to spend time walking with our babies around the neighborhood . She came from a big Italian family and one day after our walk, invited me in for lunch. Her house smelled delicious and homey because of the large pot of lentil soup that was simmering on the stove. That was the first bowl of lentil soup that I ever tasted. Delicious and comforting, this soup became a go to addition to my cooking repertoire.

Over the years I have added and subtracted to her recipe, but below seems to be the perfect combination to suit my Irish Italian roots.

Lentil Soup Ingredients:
Eight slices of good quality bacon, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
Cup and a half of coarsely chopped carrots
One red onion, coarsely diced
Eight baby red potatoes, halved ( the really small ones)
One stalk of celery, thinly sliced
Four cloves of garlic, minced
Two tablespoons of tomato paste
Cup and a half of dried lentils, rinsed
One 32 oz box of chicken stock
Two or Three cups of water
One and a half teaspoons of salt
Half teaspoon of black pepper
Three tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Grated Locatelli

Just a couple of quick tips…
I used Oscar’s Hickory Smoked Bacon, but the butcher carries five other types of bacon, so pick your favorite!
Be sure to simmer your soup in a large heavy pot. I used the Le Creuset Dutch Oven, it really does make a difference.

First things first… favorite tunes are a must. Music calms me down and makes me enjoy the cooking process even more.
Mise en place is the french phrase for, putting in place, or having all of your ingredients measured, chopped and ready to go. This really will make you more effective in the kitchen…and is oh, so fancy!

Lets get started:
Brown the bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat until it is crispy. This will take about eight to ten minutes. Add your chopped carrots, red onion, baby potatoes and sliced celery. Let this cook together for about five minutes until it begins to soften.

Stir in the minced garlic, let cook for a minute or two. Now add your tomato paste; stir, then add lentils, chicken stock and two cups of water. Give the soup another good stir, then cover and set your flame to medium/low. Placing the lid on a little bit of an angle when using the dutch oven helps to let some steam escape. Otherwise your soup may boil when it should simmer!

Simmer your soup for forty five minutes, lentils should be tender with a bit of bite; not mushy. If it looks a little thick, add another cup of water. Stir in salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.

Serve with grated locatelli cheese. A bowl of hearty lentil soup makes a great lunch. For dinner I usually serve it with a salad or crispy grilled cheese….Comfort at it’s finest:)

(Click on the gallery below for step by step instructions)

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