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LENTIL - HEARTY LENTIL SOUP

America's Test Kitchen Live!, Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

Serves 4 to 6


Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove any small stones.


• 3 ounces (3 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
• 1 large onion, chopped fine
• 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium
• 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
• 1 cup (7 ounces) lentils, rinsed and picked over
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
• 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


1. Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the vegetables are softened and the lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Uncover, increase the heat to high, add the wine, and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken broth and water; bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard the bay leaf.

3. Puree 3 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth, then return to the pot. Stir in the vinegar and heat the soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of the remaining parsley. (The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 3, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.)

VARIATIONS

HEARTY LENTIL SOUP WITH SPINACH
Follow the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup, replacing the parsley with 5 ounces baby spinach. Continue to heat the soup, stirring frequently, until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes; serve.

HEARTY LENTIL SOUP WITH FRAGRANT SPICES
Follow the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup, adding 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne along with the garlic; substitute lemon juice for the balsamic vinegar and minced fresh cilantro leaves for the parsley.
 

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