SERVES 6 – 8
Until recently, soup was the one way Americans were likely to eat lentils—perhaps because the most common variety, U.S.A. Regular, lends itself to such treatment. While many lentil soups are enriched with bacon, sausages, or ham hocks, this recipe, developed by author Colette Rossant, is light, unadulterated, and full of pure lentil flavor.
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 lb. American brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
1. Press clove into onion and place onion in a large saucepan. Add stock, bay leaf, lentils, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, skimming occasionally, until lentils are tender, 30–35 minutes.
2. Discard onion and bay leaf, and stir in garlic, thyme, and butter. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, just below a simmer, for 10 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Season with salt and pepper, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with mint and serve. (If desired, soup can also be puréed before serving.)
Variation—For a richer, more traditional lentil soup, dice 2 slices of bacon, place them in a large saucepan, and cook over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Add 1 thinly sliced peeled medium yellow onion, and 2 minced peeled garlic cloves, and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Add 1 lb. lentils, 8 cups chicken stock, 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme, and cook as above until tender. Garnish with bacon.