Lentils are sold in many varieties and colors: split, whole, brown, green, black, red, white, French. For the most tender, toothsome lentil, one that won’t fall apart in soup, stick with the brown, green, or French (also called “puy”) variety.
Step 1: Start soup Put the washed lentils, bay leaf, thyme, carrots, celery, and stock in the pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
Step 2: Reduce heat Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, add salt and pepper to taste, and let the soup cook gently, stirring from time to time.
Step 3: Cook onion In the skillet, add the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chopped onion and cook until translucent and soft but not coloring—about two minutes.
Step 4: Cook garlic Add the garlic to the skillet with the onion and cook for another minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
TIP: If the garlic burns, don’t think it will just blend in—it won’t. Garlic becomes noticeably bitter when burnt.
Step 5: Add garlic/onions to soup After the lentils are tender to the bite—depending on the variety you use that could take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes—remove the bay leaf and the thyme branches and stir in the onion-garlic mixture to the pot.
Step 6: Thin soup if too thick If the soup gets too thick, thin it by adding a little more stock until you reach the consistency you prefer. If necessary, season with more salt and pepper.
Step 7: Garnish If you like, add a dollop of plain yogurt just before serving. Et voila: a bowl of fresh lentil soup.
FACT: It’s believed that the first lentil crop was cultivated more than 8,500 years ago, in the Near East, but they didn’t show up in the United States until the early 1900s.
You Will Need
A 4 to 5 qt. heavy soup pot
A small skillet
1 c. dried lentils
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme