Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lentil Soup with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

I tend to forget about lentils when I'm thinking of things to cook. I'm not sure why I forget about them because they are delicious and one of my favorite bases for vegetarian cooking. But they just haven't made their way on to my mental rolodex, yet. I love lentil soup, curried lentils, lentils and rice, all of which I've ordered off of various menus. But why wait to eat them at a restaurant - and pay a lot more - when I can easily make them at home? So when I ran across a Cooking Light list of winter recipes, I knew I had to try the ones with lentils. So in the past week, I have made two different lentil dishes, both of which I will be sharing with you. If you're not familiar with lentils, I definitely recommend giving them a try. They are packed with protein and other great nutrients, making them a perfect base for any vegetarian meal. Although I love meat and often cook all types of meat at home, I do like to include one or two vegetarian meals during the week, both for the health benefits and the environmental impact, but I won't bore you with you my philosophies on these things.
Regardless of how you feel about meat or non-meat dishes, lentils are hearty and satisfying and great for cold weather meals. This soup combines the heartiness of lentils with the tangy, sweetness of balsamic roasted root vegetables. Feel free to play around with which root vegetables you use, depending on what's in season and what you like. I used sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots but turnips or butternut squash would also work well. The flavors in this soup only get better the longer it sits, so make a big batch and save some for leftovers, or make it a day ahead and reheat right before serving.

Lentil Soup with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables (serves 4, with leftovers)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, divided (or to taste)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cup dried lentils (I used French lentils)
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped
Preheat oven to 375°. 
In a 9 x 13 pan, toss together 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, chopped sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Season with 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper.
Roast vegetables until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While vegetables are roasting, heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
Saute onions until soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic, thyme and remaining 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for another minute.
Pour in wine, scraping up any bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add lentils and 4 cups of broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender 30-45 minutes (depends on type of lentils, check lentil package for more information).
Remove cover and add roasted vegetables and remaining 2 cups of broth. Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes.
Stir in Swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Season with remaining salt and pepper, if needed.

For a printable recipe click here

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