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!
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.
HOMEMADE LENTIL SOUP
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
- 3 14-ounce cans chicken stock (about 5-1/2 cups)
- 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 (key ingredient, don't skip this!)
In a 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 spices, than add the remaining ingredients.
STOVETOP Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours or until lentils are tender.
OVEN Cover and cook for 5 hours at 250F. (I haven't actually cooked this soup in the oven but am quite sure, based on Oven-Cooked Lentil Soup that it would work just fine. I'd also do it at 225F for 8 hours.)
SLOW COOKER Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
TO SERVE Discard bay leaves and serve.
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.
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