The weather has been awful lately–cold and wet. Those of you who live north of here might say I’m being a big baby, but it’s all a matter of what you get used to, and I’m not used to highs in the 40’s. I’d been happily accepting days in the 60’s and 70’s as my Southern birthright when suddenly this blast of real winter knocked me back to reality: winter in the South is unpredictable, and I can’t let myself get suckered into thinking it’s over before it’s actually arrived!
So last night, we needed something warm and comforting, and nothing says comfort to me like a bowl of hot soup. This one’s a super-thick lentil soup, with hearty chunks of potatoes and carrots. It’ll warm up anyone–even you folks up north who get “real” winter weather.
Rainy Day Lentil Soup
2 cups lentils, uncooked
8 cups water or vegetable stock
1 med. onion, chopped
2 small carrots, thickly sliced
1 rib celery, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into large cubes
2 bay leaves
1 vegetable bouillon cube (optional, if water is used instead of stock)
1 tsp. crushed coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, to taste
2-4 ounces fresh spinach (chopped if large leaves)
2 tsp. Red wine vinegar
Pick over the lentils and wash.
Start the water or stock heating in the pressure cooker while you chop the vegetables. Add all ingredients except the garlic, salt, spinach, and vinegar into the cooker and bring to a boil. Seal the cooker and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before using a quick-release method to release the pressure. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can simply cook this on the stove until the lentils are tender, about an hour.)
Check to make sure the lentils and potatoes are tender; if not, cook, covered but not at pressure, until done, adding water if it seems too thick. Add the garlic, salt and spinach, and check the seasonings, adding more cumin and coriander as needed. Cook for just a couple of minutes to wilt the spinach. Stir in the vinegar at the end and serve.
I served this with some fresh Brussels sprouts seasoned with garlic (no photo but they look a lot like the ones I made with lemon-mustard sauce). It was a simple meal that all of us enjoyed. And my daughter said to tell you that it’s kid-friendly!