Recipe 36: Hearty Lentil Soup

Baby…it’s cold outside and what is more warming and delicious then soup. Lentil soup is a cinch to pull together and tastes like you’ve spent hours slaving away at the stove. It contains only a few ingredients and can be made to accommodate a vegetarian diet by simply switching out the broth base. So let’s cook up a pot of soup and sit by the fire or watch our favourite movie sipping this hardly dish on a cold winter’s night.

Soup’s meagre beginnings are likely as old as the history of cooking itself. One large pot over an open fire didn’t leave much to the imagination when one had to come up with a nutritious, filling, simple to make/serve food. It is the perfect choice for either¬† sedentary or travelling cultures, rich and poor, healthy people and invalids. Soup and it’s counterparts stew, pottage, porridge, gruel, etc. evolved according to local ingredients and tastes. New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese won ton and even canned…are all variations on the same theme.

The etymological idea underlying the word soup is that of soaking. It goes back to an unrecorded post-classical Latin verb suppare (soak), which was borrowed from the same prehistoric German root (sup-) as produced in English sup and supper. From it was derived the noun suppa, which passed into Old French as soupe. This meant both piece of bread soaked in liquid’ and, by extension, broth poured onto bread.’ It was the latter strand of the meaning that entered English in the seventeenth century. Until the arrival of the term soup, such food had been termed broth or pottage. It was customarily served with the meat or vegetable dishes with which it had been made, and (as the derivation of soup suggest) was poured over sops of bread or toast (the ancestors of modern croutons). But coincident with the introduction of the world soup, it began to be fashionable to serve the liquid broth on its own, and in the early eighteenth century it was assuming its present-day role as a first course.”
An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 1o minutes

Ingredients

6 Cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
1 1/2 Cups Lentils or Yellow Split Peas
1/4 Cup crumbled Bacon or finely chopped Baked Ham
1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
1 Small Onion Chopped
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Rinse lentils and set aside. In a large pot bring stock to a boil. Add lentils, onion, cloves and salt to taste. Cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook until lentils are very soft and soup thickens, about 2 hours. Add pre-cooked & drained Bacon/Ham. Stir gently. Remove from heat allow to cool slightly.  Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chili, coriander or paprika over the top.

FOOTNOTE: This soup can be served with a salad and whole grain bread for a healthy, hearty meal.

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