Most likely you’ve gathered that I’m a big fan of legumes–beans, peas, and lentils–as side dishes, in soups, comfort food, summer salads, and in one-pot meals. Winter weather (or even just a chilly, grey, damp, rainy day that kind of settles into your bones) beg for soup. Even chilly summer days are suitable for a good lentil soup–always quick since they don’t require soaking, and given the Instant Pot addition to my batterie de cuisine, well, almost “instant”.
My idea of soup is a whole meal in a bowl–not quite a stew, but a whole meal that needs only the addition of some good bread. Wintertime means heartier soups, what Pam Anderson in How to Cook without a Book calls “supper soups.” Tomato soup is often found on my table in the summer but for me, it is not a winter thing. Most of my winter soups will include legumes–frequently lentils. While the recipe that I posted for lentil soup is used year-round (it’s even suitable for a sunny-day soup), sometimes winter soups need to be more robust–more stick-to-the-ribs.
One of the great things about soups is that they don’t require recipes–improvisation works well here though I find it impossible to make a single-serving soup. (I don’t mind “leftovers” since having a serving of soup in the freezer good when you want a perfect duvet day.
If you’re looking for guidelines here is the suggestion from How to Cook without a Book (p. 35)–kind of a master recipe: Sauté an onion, then add vegetables, starch, and meat. Cook in a quart of broth for a meal that can’t be beat.
The basic formula for four servings is 1 pound of meat, 1 pound of vegetables, and a starch (potatoes, rice, pasta), 1 onion, 1 cup of tomatoes (if you wish), and herbs and spices to fit your culinary mood.
Another “without a recipe” lentil soup is from Food52
If you want more specific guidance Alton Brown’s lentil soup recipe is a good place to start. This one includes a rather esoteric spice–grains of paradise, here or here for a description of flavor, and here for substitution. (I’m always up for trying a new spice or herb though–even harder to find ones.)
Since I’m such a lentil soup fan, I’m always looking for variations, so I plugged lentil soup into Google just to see what I could find. Lots of “hits”–and many so similar that there’s no point in mentioning them but a few have been noteworthy:
- Ethiopian-style spinach and lentil soup (Instant Pot)
- Lentil soup with lemon yogurt cream
- Fridge-clearing lentil soup
- Red lentil soup