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I'm not so much the domestic type, especially in the kitchen, I have a few decent dishes I can pull out in a pinch but mostly I classify my cooking style is "faux-made," whereby I spruce up ready-made dishes. But hey, I can do things to ramen that would rock your world.

Still, there are a few things that are easy enough that even I can make them from scratch (I get a pass on broth and canned tomatoes, right?) and stews are top on that list. I love stew, with its big chunks of yummy goodness and lots of veggies and some sort of starch. (I have a love for carbs that knows no bounds.)

Lately, I've been exploring lentils. I don't much care for beans but I wanted to get more legumes into my life, so, lentils it is. A little reading online and what I discovered (no attempt has been made to determine the veracity of these claims) about lentils is:

  • Don't cook your lentils with salt, they get tough
  • Standard lentils are better for soups than the various color ones because they stay firmer
  • The "best" lentils for soups are the French Green
  • Hard water can make lentils tough
  • You don't have to soak the lentils ahead of time but it's often recommended anyway.
  • Otherwise, you really can't mess them up

So, with that in mind, I created this fairly simple concoction.

Not Quite Vegetarian -- but could be -- Veggie Lentil Soup

I'll make note of how you could make this vegan, were you so inclined.

Ingredients 1 Ingredients 2
a whole lotta stuff

Makes oodles, halve or quarter if you don't plan to freeze some of it.


  • 1 c. - dry standard lentils
  • 1 c. - dry french green lentils
  • 1 - sweet onion
  • 1 - head of garlic
  • 2Tbs - fresh thyme
  • 3lbs - fingerling potatoes (I really like taters, adjust to your taste)
  • 1.5lb - carrots
  • 3 c. - mushrooms
  • 3 oz - pancetta (1 package, give or take) leave out for vegetarian
  • olive oil
  • 2 cans - diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart - chicken broth replace with vegetable broth for vegetarian
  • 2Tbs - tomato sauce (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Garnish goodness. Use some or all.

  • olive oil
  • fresh cilantro or parsley
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh grated parmesan omit for vegan


Soak lentils in cool water and check for stones, and ugly shriveled or otherwise wonky looking lentils. Dice onions and mince or crush garlic. Divide in to two batches. Wash and de-stem half the thyme and add to one of the bowls of onions and garlic. Chop potatoes, carrots and mushrooms into one inch pieces. On a segregated chopping board, cut pancetta into bits, about an inch square. Wash your hands, darnit, that stuff is raw meat.

Put fire to food

In a large pan, pour in some olive oil to cover the bottom and dump in the onions, garlic and thyme you've set aside. Cook on medium heat until the onions go clear. When you invariably drop onion on the floor, in transition, remember that onions are poisonous to the dogage disposal, so clean that up. Or am I the only one who drops stuff all the time? Drain lentils and add to pan. Cover with water (filtered if your water is hard). Cover and lower heat to medium-low. Set timer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed.

While lentils are simmering...

In a 12 quart pot, pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to medium and add pancetta. Allow pancetta to get a little bit of color then add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, stirring often. You want a bit of color on the bottom of the pan but don't burn anything because that's yucky. If you were fancy pantsy, you might deglaze the pan with a bit of wine but I didn't bother since we didn't have any open wine at the time.

Pour in broth, diced tomatoes, carrots and potatoes and add enough water to cover everything. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and cook for 10 mins and then add mushrooms. Taste broth and add tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

At some point your timer for the lentils is going to ding. Check that lentils are tender enough to eat but still a little firm. They'll cook further in the broth.

Add lentils to big pot. Add a little more water if needed. You probably have a full pot now.

Stew stewing
Everything in the big ol' pot.

Simmer until taters and carrots are fork tender. I like them to be just a touch under cooked since they will continue to cook a little in the hot broth and when reheated, though don't go too shy of done. Fingerlings are awesome for stew and can take a fair bit of overcooking.

Make Purdy

Big bowl of yum
Ready to eat.

That's it. Serve it up in a bowl (duh), drizzle with olive oil, add some fresh parsley or cilantro and some of the left over thyme and then shave some parmesan on top. The cheese adds some richness and some saltiness and the herbs give a lovely freshness. Freeze half for later, if you like.

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Comments (8)

Yum. I make lentil soup a lot. You might also like
to try Black Beluga lentils. I like them as much
as the french lentils and they are also very beautiful :).

Yummy yummy! Lentils are tasty and healthy!! Your stew looks awesome. (ha hah ha! I went to college in lentil country...we had them everywhere!!)

mmmm, this is going to be in the pot as soon as we get a good 'soup' day. tomorrow it will be 80 or so, not quite a soup day. i am sure you miss l.a. and its balmy spring heat. so, when are you coming back down to visit?


Looks yummy!

If you want some more ideas - join the Indian Cooking group over on Rav! We've posted a few recipes using a variety of different lentils - some that are really easy and really good. :)

That looks delish! Thanks for the recipe! I love lentils...but you had me at the "Everything in the big ol' pot" pic. :)


mmmmm that looks so delicious!!

Soaking lentils is not only not necessary, but it's not really recommended. I buy the regular ol' lentils at the grocery store and have never had a problem.

I think with regards to salt and any bean/legume is that you add it after they are cooked b/c it can make them tough.


If you are going to put up detailed photos and explanations I also expect samples!! Pretty pictures only go so far! Chewie says it needs more tuna >^..^


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 23, 2009 5:24 PM.

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