Thursday, January 24, 2013

Five Star Lentil Soup

Five Star Lentil Soup

Last week my husband brought three business associates over to the house. Unannounced. For a tour. I was sitting at the computer blogging, naturally, when I realized I heard more than one voice coming around the corner.  So, I did what any blogging housewife does when people show up and it's become apparent that they will be walking all through your house in a matter of minutes. I ran upstairs to make the bed. This is a running joke between my friend Melissa and me. Anytime Melissa comes over unexpectedly, my bed is never made. She doesn't even believe that I make my bed, ever. The truth is, it's not that bad. I make my bed about 80% of the time. Another ten percent of the time, I wake up late or am rushed so I leave it. And yet another ten percent of the time I wake up, look at that mess of sheets and decide I'm just over my bed that particular day and leave it. These are the days I can almost guarantee Melissa will be stopping by.

Anyway, my bed was not made and it was the first and only thing I thought when I saw these three people in my living room. I beelined it upstairs. I could not let people my husband does business with think his wife is slovenly, even if twenty percent of the time I really am.

Switching gears here--Question--when is the last time you thought to yourself:

Man, I'm really hankering for a big, delicious bowl of lentil soup

(I'm struggling to know where to place the question mark)

Never? That's what I thought. Who hankers for lentil soup? It's fine and all, and I'm sure it's saved many a folk when the grocery budget was running low on a certain week, but craving it? That doesn't happen...until now. This lentil soup is named "five star" for a reason. I happened upon it accidentally and noticed it was an Alton Brown recipe and that it had hundreds of reviews and five stars. I couldn't believe it. Lentil soup in my experience has always been sort of ho-hum boring. Alton was about to change all of that. This soup calls for the usual earthy suspects of onion, carrot and celery. Lentils and stock are added along with three spices you may not have guessed. Together they work their magic creating the most soul-filling, full lentil soup I've ever tasted. You won't get this effect without the spices, so don't come to me all critical of the recipe when you've left out the cardamom. You leaving out the cardamom is your fault. Not mine. I've clearly told you to add it. Don't have cardamom? Buy it, or don't make this soup. Those are the choices. Look, my friend Danielle once wanted to make this quinoa dish I make with roasted chantrelles. Seeing as how chantrelles were not in season, I didn't give her the recipe. She asked again. I told her she couldn't make it right without chantrelles. However, she asked yet again, and I finally had to level with her. I said "I can't give you the recipe because I know you won't wait for chantrelles. I know you'll just go to the store and buy whatever mushroom happens to be there and call it good, but guess what? That's not good. It's not going to taste the same." I couldn't let her disgrace the dish like that. I take these things very, very seriously you see.

Five Star Lentil Soup
adapted from Alton Brown
serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise ( I used cardamom, which is a common substitute)
Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and grains of paradise 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. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately.


  1. That is just what I need to warm me up. I'm fuuuuhreeezing up here!

  2. I really love lentil soup, so I'm looking forward to trying your 5-star recipe.

    1. PS - my hubby knows better than to show up with unannounced guests. I would absolutely kill him.

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