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Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year's Lentil Soup

Eating lentils on New Year's for good luck is a custom that goes back to the ancient Romans. I adopted it one particularly poor year (if I recall correctly, that was the New Year's after I considered moving into my car) and haven't looked back.

For years I ate Progresso's lentil soup, doctored with a little parmesan and a great garlic condiment, "Gran'mere's Garlic Recipe", that is increasingly hard to find. (The web site says that Andronico's and the Bowl have it, but if it's there, it's hiding.)

But a couple of years ago, I got a copy of Williams-Sonoma Soup (a great soup cookbook btw) and started working through it. The curried lentil soup has become an Old Reliable in my kitchen. Not only do I eat it on New Year's, I eat it much of the winter, alternating with minestrone.

If you don't have a whole bag of lentils, just adjust the broth and vegetables.

Curried Lentil Soup
after Diane Rossen Worthington in Williams-Sonoma Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (finely chopped) or 1-2 leeks, cleaned, sliced, and roughly chopped
1-3 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Generous tablespoon curry powder
1-2 bay leaves
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 bag (16 oz) dried lentils, rinsed, picked over, and drained
6 cups broth
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup chopped fresh spinach, or 1 1-lb frozen pack
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil, then add onion/leeks, carrot, and celery. Saute until softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and saute for one minute more. Add curry powder and cook till fragrant (about 1 minute).

Add tomatoes, juice, bay leaf, lentils, stock to cover, and the lemon slices. Bring to a simmer over medium hight heat. Cover, reduce heat, and cook till lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add remainder of stock and heat up. Discard bay leaf and lemon slices.

If using fresh spinach, add just before serving. If using frozen, add at the end and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste.

This is my new favorite soup recipe. THANK YOU SO MUCH... I love it, love it, love it! It's all the things great food should be and easy to prepare. Too good for words :-)
My favorite food was always been during halloween time
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