Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lentil Minestrone

Just getting off the crutches this weekend but my wife has a horrible cold so we're going with a hearty, flavorful, hot soup for a weekend night. Although it's not the traditional Italian minestrone, this one from Deborah Madison was just the right meal for a rainy night just before Christmas.

Vegetable base with the herbs for the soup

Vegetable stock just prior to straining


Diced onion

Vegetable base for the soup

French green lentils

Soup just prior to serving

9 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 cup French green lentils, rinsed
several branches fresh parsley
several branches fresh thyme
large bunch chard, stems removed
1/3 pound pasta shells
fresh cracked black pepper

I made a vegetable stock from scratch for this but any poultry or vegetable stock would work, as would water if you don't have any stock available.
Heat the stock and keep it simmering while you prepare the soup base. In a large soup pot, add the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is heated, add the diced onion and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery along with the parsley and thyme, allowing to cook for another few minutes, to get the vegetables translucent.
Pour in the heated stock, then the lentils with some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover partially, and let the stock cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile in another large pot, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil and add the chard to parboil for about 5 minutes. Remove the chard with a strainer and put aside to cool while keeping the water in the pot. Add the pasta to the boiling water to cook for 8 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, strain in a colander and add to the soup. Chop the cooled chard and add to the soup as well. Remove the herb branches.
Season with salt and pepper then serve with crusty bread toasted.

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