Lentils are one of my favorite legumes. While technically called a “pulse” because they are only cooked after being dried, they are lumped in with all beans. I have been fascinated with them since childhood because they were such an odd shape. My dollhouse had a cookie jar with lentils as the cookies, and I have never been able to shake the thought of them as such!
Of course lentils are the opposite of cookies – earthy, toothy and savory. When the cooler weather begins to arrive I always crave this lentil soup. It’s quick and yet rich and with the addition of a splash of vinegar – either the traditional red wine or the sweeter balsamic – it never fails to warm me body and soul.
Some versions had fresh or dried thyme or rosemary, but for this version I wanted the vegetables to star. The dash of vinegar simply livens it all up so don’t leave it out!
French Lentil Soup
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced cup lentils
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water or stock
2 carrots, diced
1 rib celery, diced
5-6 fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (or 2 red potatoes)
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh (or 2 dried) bay leaves
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
black pepper to taste
Saute bacon in olive oil over medium high heat until meat begins to crisp. Add onion and garlic and cook 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook another 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add stock or water, potatoes, lentils, bay leaf, potatoes and tomatoes and bring to boil. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes until lentils are tender but not mushy. Stir in salt, pepper and red wine vinegar and remove from heat and serve.
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