January 23, 2010

Green Lentil Soup with Bacon and Thyme

This veggie-dense and legume-packed soup is a great example of an animal protein-sparing approach to cooking. While the bulk of the soup's ingredients are plant-based, just a few slices of bacon add tons of flavor, infusing the entire pot with smoky goodness. Because bacon makes everything better -- and a little goes a long way. Fresh thyme and bay leaves give the soup sort of a French twist.

My favorite bacon comes from Tamarack Hollow Farm in Vermont, which sells at my local greenmarket. If I don't have it on hand, though, I go for Niman Ranch or Applegate Farms bacon, which you can find at Whole Foods and many other grocery stores. Both companies are dedicated to raising livestock in a humane and sustainable manner, plus they offer bacon that is smoked and uncured, meaning that it is made without the addition of sodium nitrate or nitrite (preservatives to which many people are sensitive). For this soup I chose the uncured, applewood-smoked bacon from Niman Ranch.

Green Lentil Soup with Bacon and Thyme

4 slices of bacon, diced into bite-size pieces
1 red onion, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
1 celery rib, cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups green lentils, picked through and rinsed
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 small to medium size Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head of escarole, washed well and chopped into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  1. Saute the bacon over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot for about 5 minutes. Add the red onion, carrot, and celery, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until vegetables are beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  2. Add lentils, stock or water, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and cook for an additional 15 minutes, until tender.
  4. Add escarole to pot and simmer for about 10 minutes, until escarole is tender.
  5. Turn off heat, stir in lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish each bowl with chopped parsley.

2 comments:

  1. Having a hard time posting! One more try - just dropped by to say - loving this. Make lentil soup every week and always looking for new ways to mix it up.

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  2. Bacon does make everything taste better. This soup sounds delicious!

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