November 14, 2007
Cooler weather causes me to hibernate in my warm kitchen, maybe it's due to a biological need to gather food and build body fat resources to survive the upcoming winter. On the other hand, it could be my need to hide in warm places so that I don't have to wear multiple layers of insulating clothing. Or maybe it's just my excuse to make hearty bone warming food like French Lentil Soup.
French Lentil Soup is an aromatic dish that will have everyone in your house gravitating towards the kitchen. Traditionally built on a base of vegetable broth, lentils and tomatoes, I needed to adjust the ingredients for the nightshade (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers) allergic crew at my house. The recipe I began to work with was from one of my favorite chefs, Alton Brown.
Prior to the advent of allergies and gluten sensitivity, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed lentil soup. Alton's recipe is where I started with my substitution for the tomatoes. I used celeriac in place of the tomatoes. Since I didn't have an onion on hand, I substituted shallots and leeks for the onion.
The French Lentil Soup turned out wonderfully. A soul satisfying medley of vegetables, this soup will have your taste buds demanding for more.
4 Tb olive oil
2 medium leeks, whites only chopped
1/2 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped celeriac
2 tsp sea salt
1 pound french lentils, pricked through and rinsed
2 quarts vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Optional: 1/2 tsp ground grains of paradise*
1. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, dump in the first seven ingredients. Then sweat the vegetables until the shallots are translucent.
2. Pour in the lentils, broth and spices, then bring to a boil. Once it has begun to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, approximately 40 minutes.
3. Serve the soup warm. The next day the soup will have thickened, so add a little vegetable broth to the soup while reheating it.
What did my family think about the French Lentil soup? All of us thought this version of French Lentil soup was a winner. My children liked it so much, they keep asking me to make it again.
* Where can you find grains of paradise? I found mine in the spice area of my local Whole Foods, but you can also buy it from the Spice House.