The original inspiration for this hearty soup came from Love Soup, by Anna Thomas, but I’ve tweaked the formula in so many ways over years, that I no longer could tell you what that recipe looked like. This soup draws its sweetness from loads of roasted carrots and parsnips (though it has done well with potatoes, turnips and fennel). There is also a bright nuance to the flavor that’s often tricky for tasters to pinpoint — lemon and mint.
I use lentilles du Puy, often labeled as French green lentils, since they retain a tiny chew rather than turning to silky mush like many lentils do (that silkiness is lovely too, but not for this soup). If you must, substitute ordinary brown lentils, but do seek out the French ones. I find them at Whole Foods, Piazza’s family market in Palo Alto and Gene’s Fine Foods in Saratoga. By the way, these itty-bitty brown pearls make a fabulous salad — tossed with vinaigrette, goat cheese and chopped arugula. And they are utterly loaded with inexpensive protein, vitamins and minerals. This is soup for a crowd on a student’s budget.
- 1-1/2 pounds carrots and parsnips, mixed (try adding fennel, turnips, potatoes, etc)
- 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled
- Olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup lentilles du Puy
- Several cups chopped leafy greens (collard, kale, chard, spinach, etc)
- One 14.5 ounce can tomatoes, finely chopped
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth or water (more liquid for a brothier soup, less for a thicker stew)
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Peel carrots and parsnips and cut into uniform-sized knobs (about 1 inch in length). Cut onion into cubes of slightly larger size. Toss carrots, parsnips and onions with olive oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender (about 30 min). Turn once or twice during cooking. If the vegetables start to brown too quickly, cover with some aluminum foil and return to the oven for the remaining time necessary. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, then roughly chop.
- Meanwhile rinse lentils, place into a large soup pot and add 4 cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender but firm (about 25 minutes).
- When lentils are done cooking, add roasted vegetables, greens (if using spinach add in the last 5 minutes), tomatoes (with juice), broth or water, mint and lemon juice to the pot. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt/pepper, mint or lemon juice as needed.