So, I’ve been on a bit of a soup rampage lately. The first day that sweaters become a comfort rather than a sacrifice Texans are willing to make for sake of “fall” is the first day that I become soup-obsessed every year. This should be great blog-fodder, but there’s a problem: my soup-making is pretty wild and undocumentable. (Sure, that’s a word.) I mean, that’s part of the joy of soup-making—you can use whatever you’ve got around. There is a very specific kind of joy associated with the discovery that you don’t need a recipe to make good food. I hope everyone reading this has or someday will experience that joy. It’s like learning you were made in the image of God…sort of. Anyway, there’s a freedom in it. Moving on.
Here is the recipe for my much-acclaimed SOCRG soup from the last post. It began when I looked up some lentil soup recipes because I didn’t know how much broth to use when making lentil soup. Then I added some stuff, changed some stuff, and generally messed with it. The balsamic vinegar makes it rich and tangy. It’s a pretty hearty soup, despite how the name sounds. Lentils are full of protein, so you don’t feel like you’ve just made your stomach into a water balloon after eating it. Does anyone else feel like that after eating a lot of broth-y soup? Sloshy stomach? Gross, sorry. Moving on again.
I doubled what I have here for SOCRG (15-18 people) and had a few bowls-worth leftover. The recipe below is probably good for around 8ish people. If you try it, let me know in the comments! A few of the spice measurements are estimations, so just taste as you go and use your own judgment. Also, replace any of the spices you want. Like rosemary? Add it, or replace something with it. Don’t have dried basil? Use marjoram, duh. And so on.
Red Lentil Vegetable Soup with Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 onion
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 3 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups red lentils
- 8 cups broth or water
- 1 cup sliced spinach
- 3-4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2ish Tbs of olive oil
- Chop up the onion, sweet potato, celery, and carrots into roughly the same size with your amazing new knife.
- Sauté with the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt in a large stock pot or dutch oven, stirring occasionally, until they’re just about finished—onion is translucent, potato is soft, etc.
- Stir in the garlic and spices and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add lentils, broth or water, and tomatoes.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce and allow to simmer for one hour.
- Stir in the spinach and vinegar.
- Bowl up and top with some rosemary balsamic crimini mushrooms (described below), possibly some parmesan cheese, and serve with a big hunk of fresh bread. Ah, fall.
Rosemary Balsamic Crimini Mushrooms
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms
- 1 Tbs fresh rosemary
- 3-4 Tbs balsamic vinegar (drinkable red wine is also good)
- 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Slice the crimini mushrooms and chop the fresh rosemary.
- Heat a cast iron skillet or a less-fun pan with a few Tbs of olive oil, then sauté the mushrooms with the rosemary, salt, pepper, and vinegar. I do this in two to three batches (literally because of the movie Julie & Julia—“Don’t crowd the mushrooms!”), using a proportional amount of the other ingredients in each batch. I also don’t measure anything. Play around with it; it’s hard to go wrong with these flavors. It should only take a few minutes for the mushrooms to become tender.
I make the mushrooms separately because I don’t like the rubbery texture mushrooms sometimes get in soups. I like a barely cooked mushroom myself. These mushrooms are also good on salads, steaks, eggplant steaks (a thing), quinoa, and just about anything else. So, enjoy. Happy soup season to you all.