Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eating Well: Greek Lentil Soup Recipe

2 years ago, I had a freelance stint making cupcakes every month for about one year. LOTS of cupcakes -- about 4-5 dozen at the end of every month, which (of course) involved a lot of testing. And leftovers. And late-night snacking. And about 20+ extra pounds (did I mention a LOT of "testing"?).
It wasn't the cupcakes so much as the frosting. I LOVE buttercream frosting. The cupcake part was merely a vehicle to shovel in more buttercream frosting -- aside from that, I couldn't care less about the cupcake.

ANYWAY.

So this year, I've been on a bit of a healthier eating kick, and have really started to take a liking to whole grains, vegan/vegetarian recipes, dried beans, brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, and... lentils.


Until recently, I've never found lentils to be all that exciting, taste-wise. Even my culinary hero Alton Brown's recipe -- while yummy enough -- wasn't enough to pique my interest more than cooking it once in a blue moon (usually when the fridge grew emptier and I started looking to my stash of bulk goods for an inexpensive meal, using ingredients I already had on hand).

I found a few recipes that looked promising -- I *love* Mediterranean food, and thanks to my herb garden, always have a healthy stash of oregano, parsley, and rosemary available, and after a few trials, ended up muddling a few recipes together to make THE most scrumptious lentil soup I have ever had.
Seriously -- since the beginning of this year, I've made a big pot of this soup a zillion times. As soon as we run out, I make another batch. Inexplicably, we're not even tired of it yet!
This soup offers excellent nutrition, great flavor, and gives me a boost of energy that few meals have given me before. I've even eaten it for breakfast when I've been a little sleepier than usual -- it worked better than a cup of coffee would have, and the burst of energy lasted a lot longer.

Here's my recipe -- enjoy!

Caroline’s Greek Lentil Soup

1 lb dried lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used a kitchen scale, & used a combination of brown/green lentils, black beluga lentils, red lentils, and french green lentils)
1/2 cup pearl barley and/or 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (I personally like to use both: 1/2 c barley, + 1/4 cup bulgur wheat)
1 onion, minced
5-8 garlic cloves, quartered
4 medium carrots, grated fine
1 stalk celery, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 large bay leaves
2 tsp rosemary (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
1 tsp oregano (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 quarts chicken stock (or water for a vegan version)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar)

In a large pot, cover lentils with boiling water and allow to boil for 10 minutes.
Drain lentils of this ‘first boiling’ (this process makes the lentils easier to digest).
Put lentils back into pot.
Add barley, bulgur wheat (if using), onion, celery, garlic, carrots, tomato paste, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Pour 3 quarts of chicken stock (or water) over lentils, bring to a boil.
When mixture boils, decrease temperature to leave the lentils cooking at a simmer and cook, covered, for 90 minutes.
Add olive oil and vinegar and simmer 30 minutes longer.
Taste. Add more herbs/S&P if you wish (I like to use dried AND fresh herbs for both a punch of flavor, and for their herbalism-based beneficial properties).
If the lentils are still too firm to the bite, allow to cook until they are tender and soup has thickened (soup will continue to thicken as it cools).

Greek Lentil Soup (with homemade naan/pita bread)






2 comments:

  1. This recipe looks amazing! Can't wait to try it!
    http://onetipsychick.blogspot.com/

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  2. Thank you! It has quickly become a household favorite -- we *always* have some of this made, and as soon we run out, I make another batch, I don't think I've ever done this with any other recipe (other than the Steel Cut Oats). I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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