Here's a great recipe that comes from the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast series, from the "Soup" cookbook. Yay to my brother for getting me the boxed set of these for Christmas last year, and to my in-laws for giving me even more this year!
I've been wanting to try out a lentil soup for a while -- I mean, lentils are super good for you, they're cheap, and they're easier to cook with than dried beans because you don't have to do all the pre-soaking, then cooking them for hour after hour. This recipe seemed like as good a place as any to start... I mean, it has BACON! in it (yes, thereby reducing some of the health benefits, but whatever, you can't have it all). I totally think this recipe is a keeper (enough that we're having it for dinner two nights in a row, and I'm serving it to my parents as leftovers! They need something healthy to get all that rich Hawaiian food out of their systems, ha ha).
Anyway, without further todo:
Lentil & Spinach Soup
Chicken stock, 4 cups
Bacon, 3 slices, chopped
Carrot, 1/2, finely chopped (I used a whole carrot and it definitely wasn't too much)
Yellow onion, 1/2, finely chopped
Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
Fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon, minced (I used dried, about 1/2 tsp)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Dried lentils, 1 cup, picked over and rinsed
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Baby spinach, 3 cups, chopped
1. Saute the bacon and vegetables. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and onion and cook until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and 1 tsp salt and saute until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Stir in the lentils.
2. Simmer the lentils. Add the stock, tomato paste and 1 cup water, raise the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simer until the lentils are tender to the bite, 25-30 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer until wilted, about 2 minutes longer.
3. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve.
We had this with a hearty multi-grain artisan loaf of bread and one bowl was enough to fill us up.