Lentil Soup with Roasted Tomatoes

Lentils are a healthy staple of the vegetarian diet, and a cheap, versatile protein source for anyone—meat-free or not.  They cook up quickly and add hearty body to a simple soup. I like Umbrian lentils from Italy—they hold their shape well with cooking—but any brown lentil will do. The flavor of this soup is amped up with a pint of roasted cherry tomatoes.  You could toss most any leafy green into the pot—kale, collards, mustard greens, chard.  Substantial leaves will need a bit more simmering to soften.  Try some chopped fresh herbs for serving—especially cilantro or mint.  And a last minute drizzle of fruity olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, finely chopped or puréed, with juice
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 quarter-sized slices peeled ginger root
  • 1 three-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups roughly chopped leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula, chard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat.  Add coriander, onion and garlic and cook until onion is very soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add lentils, canned tomatoes, and water to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Tie the bay leaf, ginger and rosemary in a square of cheese cloth and add to the simmering soup.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook until lentils are nearly tender (about 20 minutes).
  4. While soup is cooking, toss cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until very soft.  If tomatoes splatter a lot during cooking, turn the heat down a notch.
  5. Add cherry tomatoes to the soup pot, with greens, and remove the cheesecloth sack.  Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the greens (spinach needs virtually no cooking, kale or collards need closer to 10 minutes).  Add lemon juice and stir before serving.  Chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro or mint add a nice finishing touch.
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