May is the month when I generally give up on opening our screened windows and settle into the reality of air conditioning. While not as hot as the sauna that is June or the pressure cooker that is July and August, the end of May usually gives us Mississippians a good taste of the summer heat to come.
But May can surprise us with some rare cool nights and sunny but mild days, which is what was going on this week, the last week of school for my daughter…and of freedom for me. Well, relative freedom. While trying to put as much time as I could into my own projects before I become Chief Chauffeur and All-Around Entertainment Coordinator for the summer, I’ve still needed to find time to make it to all of the end-of-the-year award ceremonies, performances, and gatherings that get crowded into the last days of school.
On one hectic evening this week, I needed a meal on the table in about a half hour, so I decided to take advantage of the blissfully cool weather to make something I probably won’t want to make again for several months: lentil soup. With no time to chop vegetables, I decided to take advantage of one of my dirty little secret ingredients: frozen mirepoix blend vegetables.
Mirepoix is simply a blend of chopped onions, carrots, and celery, and nothing could be easier to throw together, but prepping vegetables does take time. So when it goes on sale, I stock my freezer with this packaged mirepoix blend; it makes a great base for sauces, beans, and soups. Often I sauté it until lightly browned, but this time, I just threw it in with the lentils and let it all cook together. I finished the soup off with canned, crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes (which are saucier and take less time to cook than diced) and some hickory salt for a great smoky flavor that made this ridiculously easy lentil soup taste like it had cooked for hours.
Ridiculously Easy Lentil Soup
- 2 cups green lentils 400 g, rinsed
- 7 cups water 1600 ml
- 14 ounces mirepoix blend vegetables 400g, see note above
- 8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes 220 g, cubed
- 2 servings vegetable bouillon cubes [I used one large Not-Beef Broth Cube, which is gluten-free]
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes use fire-roasted for best flavor
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon hickory salt or other smoked salt, optional
- salt to taste
- additional seasonings to taste
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Place lentils, water, and next 7 ingredients into pressure cooker or large pot.
For pressure cooking, seal the cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook under pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down for 5 minutes. Then, release any remaining pressure and return to very low heat. Add tomatoes, pepper, and both salts, and taste to check seasonings. If necessary, add more to taste (I added more oregano and garlic). Cook uncovered for at least 15 minutes, adding more water if it seems too thick, and stirring from the bottom often. Stir in vinegar just before serving.
For regular cooking, bring to a boil, stir well, cover pot, and cook over low heat until lentils are tender, about an hour. (Add additional water if it begins to dry out.) Add tomatoes, pepper, and both salts, and taste to check seasonings. If necessary, add more to taste (I added more oregano and garlic). Cook uncovered for at least 15 minutes, adding more water if it seems too thick, and stirring from the bottom often. Stir in vinegar just before serving.
If you have more time, consider one of these lentil soup recipes:
- Homestyle Lentil Soup
- Lentil Soup with Coriander and Cumin
- Rainy Day Lentil Soup
- Ethiopian-Inspired Red Lentil Soup
- French Lentil and Portabella Stew
- …or go even quicker and easier with Ridiculously Easy Lentil and Vegetable Stew
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