Homemade Lentil Soup

The Recipe: A classic homemade lentil soup, just inexpensive wholesome lentils, spices and vegetables. The special touch? A splash of sherry that somehow rounds out all the flavors. This is one of my oldest soup recipes and gets rave reviews, every time! First published in print in 2004, such a favorite, republished online in 2014.

The Conversation: What is better, a “snow day” or a “day in snow”?

Homemade Lentil Soup, a classic homemade lentil soup, just inexpensive wholesome lentils, spices and vegetables. The special touch? A splash of sherry that somehow rounds out all the flavors. Recipe and tips at Kitchen Parade.

Too bad. The kids were all hoping for a snow day. Some moms, too. “Stock up,” a weathercaster warned. “It’ll hit about noon on Sunday,” predicted another.

Come Sunday noon, there wasn’t a flake to be seen. But by five, it was coming down hard. By nine, there were three inches on the ground and it was still falling. I imagined the neighbor kids peering out the window while getting ready for bed. “Is school cancelled yet?” the younger one would ask hopefully.

But by eleven, the snow had stopped, leaving a vast clean expanse of white when morning dawned with a big blue sky and a big golden sun.

Most days, I watch a neighbor boy trudging down the street to school, his heavy backpack hanging low on his hips. This morning, however, he zigzagged along the street, stepping into the unmarred snow in every yard, stretching his legs as wide as possible between footprints. Perhaps better than a snow day is a day spent in snow.

ALANNA's TIPS This makes one big-big-big pot of soup so make sure your pot is big enough. In my kitchen, that means getting out the big stockpot but you might split the ingredients between two Dutch ovens. I once made Homemade Lentil Soup with the lovely green French lentils and black “beluga” lentils, which hold their shape. The soup turned out delicious, as usual, but did take much longer to cook and wasn't quite as creamy. For a vegan soup, just use vegetable broth.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

HOMEMADE LENTIL SOUP

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Stove-top time: 2-1/2 hours
Makes 14 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken stock (that’s 3 14-ounce cans) or vegetable stock
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 16 ounces dried green, brown or black lentils (about 3 cups), rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (the key ingredient, don't skip this!)

In a very large pot, heat olive oil over medium high until shimmery. Add onions, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep gold in color. Stir in the spices, than add the remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil, then decide how and where to finish cooking.

COOK ON STOVETOP Leave covered, reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours or until lentils are tender.

~or~ IN THE OVEN Leave covered, cook for 5 hours at 250F. (I haven't actually cooked this soup in the oven but am confident, based on Oven-Cooked Lentil Soup that it would work beautifully. I'd also do it at 225F for 8 hours. I love “slow cooking” in the oven because the temperature is so even and controlled!)

~or~ IN A SLOW COOKER Transfer to a slow cooker, cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

TO SERVE Discard bay leaves and serve.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 98 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 754mg Sodium; 16g Carb; 4g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 2. CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving, 1 cup; 50-calorie serving, 1/2 cup.

FUNNY STORY

One year, I made this soup as the family gathered before Christmas. Everyone gobbled it up except Alex, my younger nephew, who picked and spooned and moved his soup around in the bowl. He'd had the required 'taste' - the family rule is "You don't have to like it but you do have to taste it". His mom quietly explained to me that he really wasn't so fond of lentils. No problem. Fast forward to the next Christmas. I made the soup again (it's a favorite, right?!) and only just as my sister and nephews were walking in the door after 14 hours of driving, did I remember Alex's reaction the year before. So I got out the peanut butter and then joked, "Hey A'x, I made your very favorite lentil soup!" He answered, "Good!", we sat down to eat, he cleaned up the whole bowl and hit the kitchen for seconds.

Lovely, Lovely Lentils, More Recipes to Inspire



More Hearty, Healthy Soup Recipes

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~ more soup recipes ~

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Mmm. Love lentil soup. Do you think you could use sherry vinegar?
 
Two hours on stovetop? Seems like a really long time. French lentils would take me about a half hour, brown lentils about 45 minutes. Probably cook it, then reheat it as next day soup quite often tastes better. I left a previous comment asking if you could use sherry vinegar instead of sherry, only because I have some!?
 
Cathy ~ Yes, sherry vinegar would be a good substitute, offering some acidity though without the sweetness of sherry itself. As for timing, I’ve made this soup of many years, it’s one of my oldest recipes and when I cooked it on an electric stove (and a gas stove which could hold a low simmer), yes, I really do cook it that long. But I see what you’re saying, I do, because lentils “do” cook more quickly than dried beans, say. Maybe check after 45 minutes, decide what to do next and then report back? I’d love to know how it works for you ...
 
I made this today, but halved it. I had everything except the ketchup and the sherry, but did use sherry vinegar. It was really delicious. I added a bit more brown sugar. Nice spicy kick, but not too spicy. Made some soda bread to serve with it. Thanks.
 
Absolutely delicious!
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna