Greek Lentil Soup ♥

Greek Lentil Soup
Hey Vegetable Lovers, this is my annual "public service announcement" -- the reminder to "make soup first" before starting to cook for Thanksgiving. That way, after a big day of cooking, there will be something in the fridge to actually eat, not just food for Thanksgiving Day. Naturally, I have a recipe to share too ...

A simple lentil soup, cooked in a broth scented with bay leaf, garlic, rosemary and a surprise ingredient, cinnamon. Vegan.

I've been mesmerized by the photographs from a new-ish cookbook by Tessa Kiros. I loved an earlier cookbook, Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes, mostly because it's an unlikely combination of Finnish, Greek and South African recipes, cuisines I've been lucky to know, in person, right in situ. (And long-time readers have seen two recipes from Falling Cloudberries, Lamb Roast with Lemon & Oregano and Homemade Finnish Mustard which is always -- always -- in my fridge.)

The new cookbook focuses on just one of those food traditions, Food From Many Greek Kitchens. The photos are only occasionally of food, mostly of home life, perhaps, I suspect, of a romantic notion of a home life that comes from another era. Rustic. Colorful. Everyday. Like photographs so old the faces are rubbed away. Church doors emblazoned with Greek crosses. Old flags and bottles and postcards and chairs. Shop windows with sausages and crusty loaves of bread. Greek Orthodox clerical robes. Well-worn kitchen bowls and cutting boards.

I also appreciate the cookbook's organization. My own cooking style is to start with the season, select an ingredient or two, then work from there. In Food From Many Greek Kitchens, there's another way of ordering the choices. Traditional Foods. Fasting Foods. Easter Foods. Shared Foods. Baker's Foods. Soups. Something called "Ladera" (usually simple vegetarian peasant food) and Salads. And while there are occasional sweets in the early chapters, the chapter titled "Sweet Foods" has only 25 pages in a 330 page book. (This has become a defining criterion for "good cookbooks" -- a high proportion of real food vs occasional treats.)

Leave it to me to pick one of the simplest recipes, "Fakes Lentil Soup". I was struck by the description, "This is a soup that most Greeks have grown up with." I loved this soup and am not embarrassed to mention that it was my breakfast several days in a row. (Why is it we don't choose soup more often -- ever? -- for breakfast?) It was hearty and healthy and belly-warming these chilly autumn mornings.

[Disclosure: The good folks at Andrews McMeel often pop a complimentary cookbook into my mailbox, including both these books by Tessa Kiros. They hope I'll write something nice about the cookbook. Some times I do, some times I don't, there's no obligation and no other compensation. When I do, it's always because I like the cookbook, or a recipe from the cookbook, and think readers might too. (And hey, I just noticed, Andrews McMeel has turned my friend Joyce Lock's great food trivia game into a Foodie Fight calendar!) ]


RECIPE for GREEK LENTIL SOUP

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes but improves with a rest overnight
Makes 8 cups

HERB VINEGAR
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary or fresh oregano
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife

SOUP
7 cups water
2 teaspoons table salt

1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) brown lentils
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons olive oil (see TIPS)
1 large onion, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
3 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 large tomatoes (or a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste

TO SERVE
Herb Vinegar
Good olive oil

HERB VINEGAR In a small serving bowl (preferably one that can go to the table), mix the vinegar with herbs and garlic. Set aside to steep at room temperature.

SOUP Bring water and salt to a boil.

Rinse lentils, add to pot. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, olive oil (if using), onion and carrot. Cover and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer and let simmer for about 25 minutes.

With the large holes of a four-sided grater resting on a plate to catch the juices, grate the tomatoes (see TIPS). Add the tomato to the pot and let simmer for another 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and plump and fully cooked.

Remove the cover and let cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the soup is thick and soupy. Remove from the heat, stir in 3 tablespoons of the Herb Vinegar. If needed, season with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE Scoop soup into bowls. Tableside, drizzle soup with remaining vinegar and, if you like, good olive oil.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
The inspiring recipe called for 6 tablespoons of olive oil. I opted for just two but think if you wanted to go really spartan, eliminate the oil entirely.
The grating technique separates the skins from the flesh. Usually the skins are discarded but I decided to throw them in the pot for more flavoring. All but a couple of large pieces disintegrated, no waste!



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MORE FAVORITE LENTIL RECIPES
~ Oven-Cooked Lentil Soup ~
~ Summer Lentils ~
~ Julia Child's Lentil Salad ~
~ more recipes with beans & lentils ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables ~
~ Lentil Soup Vincent ~
~ Two-Way Lentil Skillet ~
~ more lentil recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column


A Veggie Venture is home of lentil lover and 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2011


13 comments:

Looks like a good recipe and also sounds like a very interesting cookbook!

This is the same easy authentic greek lentil soup I've had in my recipe book under a different spelling for 25 years. Amazing how the few ingredients make such aet fantastic bowl of soup that gets better the longer it sits in the fridge. ENJOY IT

Kalyn ~ Thanks! I really do love looking through (and obviously, cooking from!) Tessa's cookbooks.

Anonymous ~ Oh wow, thanks so much for sharing that. I really did love this soup and it's nice to know a fellow cook agrees that it's just fantastic.

I bet the cinnamon gives it a great flavor. Awesome recipe!

Alanna, I wrote to you once before and you were so kind to respond. I have had wonderful lentil soup at a local family owned Greed restaurant, and have often wanted to make this soup - and now here's this lovely recipe AND a good recommendation for a cookbook...Thank you, I love your blog, Sandy

I've made yummy Mexican lentil soup for years, but this sounds like a nice change of pace. As always, I appreciate the nutritional info at the bottom of the recipe.

C.B.

Yum, this looks fab! I will try it with green lentils as I have them to hand:)

cooking this soup right now...after just ten minutes of simmering on the stove..the place smells wonderful! i substituted a teaspoon of dried rosemary for the fresh sprig (hope that won't be too much!) and added much more fresh garlic..can't wait to try it! thanks for the recipe! love your blog! ~ chris

Just want to say that I made this soup for dinner... it was really good! I usually have problems with lentil soup being too bland, but this one was different. Thanks for the great recipe, I hope to make it again soon.

This looks great! I read the directions carefully, but I can't see when you add the onion?

Hi Anonymous ~ The onion is there, it's added along with the lentils and carrots. Hope you like it!

Thanks for your fast reply! The word "onion" did not get printed when I printed the directions! I read the print out three times, but I didn't check the page. *blush*

I'm the poster who couldn't find the onion in the recipe! I made it this weekend and brought it for lunch. I brought some for one of my co-workers as well, and she loves it!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna