Even in the spring I crave soups and stews. I love any kind of soup. There’s something about it that’s so comforting and while I made this and finished it a few days ago I’m wishing I had more of this soup because today is a rainy and gray day – perfect for soup. But even if it were sunny this soup is awesome. It can be gluten free – if you still want pasta in it just make sure to add a gluten free kind. I didn’t add it to the recipe because I just used leftover pasta that was in the fridge. I’m also not sure how gluten-free pasta would stand up to being in the fridge in the soup, so keep it separate and add it to your individual bowl just before serving. But the whole grain pasta I added was just fine for a couple days in the fridge with the soup.
I happen to think this soup makes better leftovers than fresh soup, but that might be because I just heat it up and eat, no work involved. You could also add a few good sized handfuls of chopped fresh spinach to this soup in the last couple minutes of cooking, I think that would be lovely, and an amazing way to get your greens.
Simple Lentil Vegetable Stew
Serves 4 or 6 as an appetizer or with a salad on the side
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large carrots diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp thyme
- 4 C diced tomatoes in their juice(or 3 C and a little extra water if using fresh)
- 1 C water
- 1/2 C dry green or brown lentils picked through and rinsed(or substitute one can of your favorite beans drained and omit the added water for a much quicker meal)
- 1 large handful fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the carrots and celery. Stir well and cook for 5-6 more minutes and then sprinkle with thyme before adding in the tomatoes and water and bay leaf.
If you don’t want chunks of tomatoes you can use tomato sauce or you can puree a large can of diced tomatoes. I used a quart jar of my homemade canned tomatoes but a store bought 35 oz can would work fine. You can also use fresh tomatoes, but you should peel them first by dunking them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds till the skin is loose. If using canned tomatoes you’ll want to add a pinch or two of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. If you want a thinner soup feel free to add more water, or for a more stew like consistency just add the 1 cup mentioned in the recipe. Add the lentils and stir well. As a side note you can omit the lentils and 1 cup of added water and add a small can of any kind of your favorite beans after the vegetables are tender and just heat through, add the parsley and serve. I’ve tried chickpeas, great northern beans and even red kidney beans and they’re all delicious.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cooked for about 30 minutes or till the lentils are tender. Chop up the parsley an add it to the pot, reserving some for the top of each bowl. Remove the soup from the heat, remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with fresh bread or leftover noodles mixed in(gluten-free if that is a concern) and a little bit of parsley on top.