Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Cream of Lentil Soup

I clipped this recipe from the Star Weekly many many (many) years ago, and came across it again recently. This was a recipe that came from the kitchens of the King Edward Hotel, and I was intrigued by the idea of a soup that treats lentils - hearty peasant food if ever there was any - with all the refinement of classic French cuisine. I simplified this a little from the original, not that it was ever complicated. The original recipe called for a bouquet garni of bay leaf, fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley, but I didn't have fresh herbs and I hate the flavour of cooked parsley anyway.

I cooked the lentil soup the night before, then puréed it and reheated it with the cream the next day. I found it got very thick overnight, so I added another cup of water to the soup as well as a bit more cream than called for. This makes a lotta soup. I'm sure it could be cut in half easily. I used red lentils as the recipe called for; now I am wondering how this would do with split green peas. Quite good, I suspect.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Cream of Lentil Soup
2 small onions
2 large carrots
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups red lentils
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup 10% cream (or more)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
salt & pepper

Pick over the lentils. Rinse and drain them well.

Peel and chop the onions and the carrots. Slice the garlic. Sweat them in the butter for about 10 or 15 minutes (i.e. put them in a heavy-bottomed soup pot with the butter, and heat gently with the lid on. Stir occasionally.) Add the drained lentils and mix well. Keep over low heat for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken stock and bring up to a boil. Skim the soup. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and add the bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Simmer the soup, covered but stirring frequently, until the lentils are very soft. That'll be all of 20 minutes, so don't go wandering off too far.

Remove the bay leaves and purée the soup until very smooth. Thin with a little water if it is too thick. Blend in the cream, and the last tablespoon of butter, if you are up for it. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (My purchased chicken stock was quite salty - I didn't need to add any, so watch that.) Heat through and serve.

Like most thick legume substances, frequent regular stirring is important at all stages of cooking, or else it will weld itself to the bottom of the pot and turn black. Because of this, when you get to the reheating stage, the microwave is not a bad place to do it.


Patricia Scarpin said...

I love lentils but have never had them in soup - this looks wonderful!

BW said...

I love lentil soups, but these soups have to be made the day before and left to meld - otherwise they have a hollow empty taste.