Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lentil Soup

I LOVE soup!!!!  It is truly one of my favorite comfort foods.  Nothing warms you like a nice, hot bowl of soup unless it is a cup of coffee, but that is a different story.  Lately the weather has been up and down and reminds me very much of fall.  Fall reminds me of a nice bowl of soup and then I head to the pantry to see what kind of soup I can make.  Just for clarification, I eat soup year round, but lately the chilly nights have made me crave soup more.  One of our family's favorite soups is Lentil Soup.  There are a lot of recipes out there for lentil soup and when I first started making it, I checked some of them out just to get an idea of what people put in there soup and then I came up with my recipe using what our family likes and what I had on hand.  You may notice in my pictures some of the ingredients are in bulk containers.  We are very lucky to live in an area where one of the neighboring towns is mostly Amish people and they have a grocery store that I refer to as my "Amish Sam's Club."  I can go there and buy things in bulk at a very reasonable price.  That is how I buy many of my spices and all of my bouillon.  It is so much cheaper and I always find other great deals there too.  I will also tell you that in this recipe I used ground celery instead of chopping up celery.  I didn't have the fresh celery on hand and still wanted the same flavor so I subbed in the ground celery. I do this frequently as we are not huge celery eaters in our house.  We like it, but I use a few stalks and the rest ends up going to waste so I don't always keep it on hand, but I do keep the ground celery on hand as a substitute.  So without further ado here is my recipe:

Lentil Soup
1 roll of sausage, browned and drained
1 large can of diced tomatoes (for this recipe I used 1 quart of our canned tomatoes)
2 chopped carrots
1 large diced onion or 2 small onions diced
1 stalk chopped celery or 1 Tbs. ground celery
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 2 Tbs. dried, minced garlic because we like garlic)
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Black Pepper
2 Tbs. Beef Base (beef bouillon) or 1 can of beef bouillon
2-3 Cups dried Lentils
4-6 Cups Water*
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
*The amount of water is a guess because I use enough to cover the soup and then if the soup gets too thick while cooking, I will add more.  If you want more of a stew consistency use less water, if you want it thinner with more broth add more water.

1.  Brown and drain the sausage.  While the sausage is cooking, chop the carrots and celery (if using stalks) and dice the onion.
2.  After the sausage is cooked, add all the ingredients to a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
3.  After the soup is brought to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the lentils are soft, stirring occasionally.  After all the ingredients have been cooked together, I check the taste of the soup and add salt if needed.
4.  Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese if desired.  I serve this soup with a nice crusty loaf of bread for dipping into it.  

The finished soup

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