Thursday, April 22, 2010

Satisfying Soups: Lentil and Caramelized Onion

Sometimes, between all those cookies and muffins, you have to take a break.

Taking my hands off anything sweet is pretty difficult in my case. Actually, if I had no willpower, I would probably be eating sweets all day long, with one-hour breaks to have something salty. Because, you know, eating only sweet things ends up making you feel weird to your stomach--eating a little salty something is the only way to put things back into place before going back for a few hours of cake. Unfortunately (well, fortunately for my health and longevity) I can't stuff my face all day long, and I actually do appreciate eating savory dishes. 

My real problem is that I often go into fads, and fix the same thing over and over again, especially when I'm cooking for one--a fancy way of saying that I make something to go along with my obsessive TV show-watching. Take brussels sprouts, for example: after discovering I really enjoyed them, especially with some brown sugar, pecans and tofu, I made the dish for four days straight. And burrito bowls? Make that two weeks. 

The past few weeks have been all about soup. I don't have the kind of blender that enjoys blending vegetables in soup, apparently (that is exactly how my blender fell into the cold hands of Death), so I've been pretty reluctant to make any winter soups. Pumpkin soup, count me out! Oh well. When my eyes fell on a recipe for lentil soup in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food, however, my mind lit up like it does when I look at a chocolate layer cake--and that's saying a lot. Inspired by the recipe, I realized I had everything I needed, and made soup.

And made it again, and again. And again? Let's just say I'm fully embracing the fact that Spring nights in Paris are still pretty cool, temperature-wise. You could also say that I'm a little weird for enjoying the same thing for days on end, but I wouldn't do that if I were you. You never know what soup might catch your fancy next.

Caramelized Onion and Lentil Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4

1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked green lentils (canned can work as well!)
5 cups chicken broth
1/4 c. crème fraîche (or sour cream), for serving
1/4 c. fresh chervil, or any other fresh herb
2 dried bay leaves
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until edges start to brown and onion is very soft. Stirring often helps ensure the onion won't burn.

Add chicken broth, lentils, and bay leaves, raising heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, crushing lentils along sides of the pan to thicken soup. Season with salt and pepper, tasting to adjust seasoning.

Ladle soup into plates; garnish with fresh herbs and a tablespoon of cream. Serve immediately.

Note: If you're starting out with dried lentils, you can proceed like this: Place 1 and 1/2 cups dried lentils in a saucepan, cover with water (it should come up about a half inch higher than the lentils), add a little salt and some dried bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Let everything simmer until lentils are soft but not mushy, which takes around 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
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K8teebug said...

what if you're starting out with dried lentils? I really want to make this for dinner tonight!

(if there should be cooking instructions for the lentils on the packaging, I apologize)

Lucie said...

The way I do it is pretty simple: if you're starting out with 1 1/2 cups dried lentils, put them in a saucepan, cover with water (it should come up about a half inch higher than the lentils), add a little salt and some dried bay leaves.Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Let everything simmer until lentils are soft but not mushy, which takes around 20 minutes or so. Drain and you're good to go!

I'll include this in the post, especially since I forgot all about the bay leaves!

claudia said...

the best lentils are the French style one. Much much better than the brown lentils. French lentils are now easy to find in the US.the best lentils are the "puy green lentils". If you have a chance to try those, you will see how delicious they are...if of course you like lentils!

grace said...

i've been known to get hooked on certain things, and although those things are usually sweet, it doesn't require a stretch of the imagination to see me getting obsessed with this soup. caramelized onions are just plain awesome, and the lentils make this so hearty and healthy. nice, lucie. :)

Mary said...

You've actually made lentil soup look good and that's not easy to do. I go through periods when I want to eat certain foods all the time. I love Long Rice Noodles and could live on them. I wonder when we go through these phases, if our bodies are telling us they need something contained in thee foods? That's my story and I'm sticking to it :-). Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Shauna said...

I feel you on the needing a break from the sweets sometimes! My breaks only last a day or so, but still. :)

Paris Pastry said...

Very rarely (is that a word?) I too need a break from eating sweets all day long. Lentil soup is my favorite kind of soup!

vickys said...

Ah I'm obsessed the same way too, when I find something I love, bam! I have it three days straight! :) Don't worry you aren't alone!

Soup IS really comforting!

Cinnamon-Girl said...

I could eat sweets all day too! But then I start craving some real food. Love your soup - delicious with the lovely flavor of caramelized onions.

Lucie said...

Claudia: Green lentils are the best! I'd be interested to see how this would turn out with red lentils, too.

To Everyone: Glad to see I'm not alone in my obsessions!!

claudia said...

red lentils get mushy quite fast, it would be good but not as good as with green lentils.

Emily said...

OOoh this soup looks amazing. I love the garnish. I've never had chervil before.

I know what you mean about needing to take a break from the sweets!