Monday, December 3, 2012

Lentil Soup with Winter Vegetables

But it’s December, you say. Shouldn’t The Messy Apron be splashed with tempting photos of holiday treats featuring festively colored sprinkles and enough sugar and fat to induce regret in January? Shouldn’t you be baking up a blizzard? Sating your winter sugar zombie? Abusing your license to cookie?

I wish I were. And maybe soon I will be, but to tell you the truth, December has sneaked up on me once again. It’s shameful, really. It’s not like I don’t know it’s coming. It’s not like I don’t have several thousand seasonal recipes to try. It’s not like I don’t loooooove cookies. But until I can clean up the kitchen (again), get enough sleep, get over a head cold, make a space for the Christmas tree, bring up the decorations from their tomb in the basement, and figure out what to give everybody for Christmas I can’t seem to think straight about homemade holiday indulgences.

A while back, however, before December even finished its stealthy approach, I did make a comforting and flavorful lentil soup. I was surprised by how much beautiful flavor resulted from the addition of the sort of homely celeriac and rutabaga.  Chicken broth also gave this thick soup an additional richness, but you could use vegetable broth instead.

This soup is quite healthy but also filling and not at all boring. It might just be a good foil for those forthcoming indulgences. Assuming I ever get around to making any. Hey, at least I haven’t given up and loaded a shopping cart with boxed cookies…yet.


Lentil Soup with Winter Vegetables and Kale
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, March 2011

You could make this soup vegan by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼” to ½” pieces
1 medium celeriac, peeled and chopped into ¼” to ½” pieces
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped into ¼” to ½” pieces
1 ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1 pound green lentils, rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 small bunch kale, stems removed, chopped

1. Pour the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook just until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, and salt. Cook, stirring often until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the lentils, oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf, pepper and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and boil gently until the vegetables and lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the kale and cook about 10 minutes more. Add more broth or water if the soup is too thick. Taste for salt and other seasonings and adjust as needed.

Makes about 8 servings.

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