Blame it on my immature age or immature taste buds, but I never was fond of lentils as a child. That all changed merely four years ago when I decided that they were nutricious and delicious. I give props to Cedar's Deli, a Lebanese restaurant in town, for my change of heart. From their lentil soup, to Wild Fork's lentil salad, I am now a lentil lover.
Yesterday I was struck madly with a lentil craving and decided to take the challenge into my own hands. Could I make a lentil soup that satisfied me as well as the restaurant's recipes I now hold so dear?
Yes. I could. And, I did. This is a great day to slow simmer this stew, as the weather has taken on a dreary disposition. This soup has a kick, so it should wake up those tastebuds in no time!
*1 pound lentils
*2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
*3 leeks, chopped
*3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
*1/4 cup EVOO
*1 tbs kosher salt
*1 1/2 tbs freshly ground black pepper
*1 tsp dried thyme
*1 tsp whole cumin
*6 carrots, chopped
*8 stalks celery, chopped
*8 oz can tomato paste
*3 quarts chicken stock (or more pending your soupy preference)
*freshly grated Parmesan cheese (topping)
In a large stockpot, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Drain.
Using the same pot, turn heat to medium and add the EVOO until it warms. Add the garlic, and saute until you can just smell it's aroma. Add the onions, leeks,salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin. Saute for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings (I did not need to add anything). Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve!!