By Stefanie Dulak
While everyone’s focus is probably on eating as many Irish foods as possible this week (Irish Stew or Corned Beef and Cabbage anyone?), I decided to take a different route and concentrate on a dish from a different area of the world: Greece. Lentil soup is said to have originated in Greece where the legumes were first harvested between 10700-9400 BC. There are three reasons why I love lentil soup:
- It’s basically a one-pot dish, which means super easy cleanup.
- It’s almost impossible to mess up. You can add, remove or combine any ingredients you want, and the soup will still probably turn out delicious.
- It is very healthy and very filling. This recipe serves six and is only about 170 calories per serving.
I found a simple recipe for lentil soup from Alton Brown but modified it a bit to suit my personal tastes. Here’s what I did:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I love garlic, so I added it to the soup, but Alton didn’t use any.)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes (Alton suggests using peeled tomatoes from a can, but I didn’t have any so I just used cherry tomatoes and left the skins on.)
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth (I had just under 2 quarts of broth, so I just added water to make up the difference.)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin (Alton only used ½ teaspoon each of coriander and cumin, but I like a little more flavor, so I used a full teaspoon of each.)
- Place the olive oil into a large soup pot and set over medium heat.
- Once hot, add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and salt, and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. (NOTE: don’t be afraid to use the leaves on the celery! They have a lot of flavor and add another texture to the soup.)
- Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander and cumin, and stir to combine.
- Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
- If you want, use a blender to puree the soup to your preferred consistency, but I just left it as is.
Use this recipe as a guideline. Modify the ingredients to reflect what you have on hand or what you prefer taste-wise. And if you really need to add Irish flair in honor of St. Patty’s Day, throw in some lamb.