After a few gorgeous end-of-summer days, NJ was struck by some nasty rain and wind. It was such a bummer (I really wanted to go outside and play!) but the weather ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was stuck inside, so naturally I turned to food to cure my boredom. Because of the over abundance of fresh produce all summer long, I kind of neglected our pantry. I opened it up and literally three giant bags of lentils fell at my feet. Three. Why my father needs to buy everything in bulk, I’ll never know…but hey, when you need something, it’s there.
The phrase “you can’t go wrong with a classic” had been running through my mind for a few weeks, and since I was stir crazy indoors with lentils seemingly falling from the sky, I took it as a sign to make a traditional lentil soup. No frills, curries, kales, or any other ‘fancy’ ingredients I usually play with. Simple goes a long way when done right. And this soup is done pretty freakin’ right. It starts off with the holy trinity – onion, carrots, and celery. They’re cooked in garlic and cumin which add an insane layer of comfort. After you toss in the sprig of fresh thyme, this soup starts to scream comfort food! Anyway, the rest of the soup is quite simple. Simmer lentils until tender, and then enjoy with super crusty bread. Bread is mandatory for lentil soup…didn’t you get the memo? ;)
Homemade, slow cooked soups always smell like home…and the smells always draws a crowd. By the time this dish was done, my folks were waiting “patiently” for a bowl. We all ladled huge bowls, sat on he couch, flipped on a movie, and just enjoyed the rainy day stuck inside. This traditional lentil soup is filling and comforting, but also healthy for you. So don’t be nervous to grab an extra bowl! Like I said, you can’t go wrong with a classic. Try it out and let me know what you think!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup red onion (diced)
1/2 cup carrots (diced)
1/2 cup celery (diced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/8 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 lb lentils (picked through and rinsed)
6 cups water (or broth)
2 cups tomato juice
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil. Cook the onion, carrots, and celery with a pinch of salt/pepper for around 2-3 minutes. Add in the garlic and cumin seed. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
Meanwhile, pick through the lentils to remove any rocks or twigs. Rinse and then add the lentils to the pot. Add in the coriander. Stir to combine before pouring in the water, tomato juice, sprig of thyme, bay leaf, and salt.
Raise heat to high in order to bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 45 minutes (or until lentils are tender).
Using an immersion blender, blend about half of the lentils (this is optional if you enjoy a chunkier soup. I like it about 3/4 of the way blended).
Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!