Lentil Soup with Cherry Tomatoes
I have been making lentil soups for as long as I have been cooking, mostly in variations on a theme. Lentil soup is “fast food” in my kitchen because it doesn’t take long to prepare. Unlike other legumes (think beans), lentils do not require soaking and take only about 30-45 minutes to cook. From start to finish you can probably have a hearty lentil soup ready in about an hour. It also keeps nicely in the fridge for a few days and you can change it every time you heat it. Once day add some spinach. The next time add a few cooked potatoes. You get the idea.
With the first snow fall here today soup seemed like an appealing proposition, especially with these puffy, crusty white buns that I bought at Cobs Bread today on the way home ( I also made a warm potato salad that I will post tomorrow). So lentil soup it was. I made it very simply, with sautéed aromatics (onion, garlic, carrots, celery), then I added lentils, barley, a small can of diced tomatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes in green and yellow adding freshness, flavour and colour. I wanted the soup to be “soupy”, not thick like a stew, so I added about 8 cups of stock, not all at once but slowly as the soup was cooking and needed more liquid.
One more thing: if you want to make this soup without oil just cook the aromatics in stock instead of oil. It works perfectly and I assure you that the soup will be full of flavour even without the oil. To do it put a little stock (1/2 cup) in the pot and bring to a boil. Add the aromatics and sauté as if it was oil, adding a bit more stock as necessary to prevent it from drying. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe. If you really feel that you need the oil after all, just drizzle a little herb oil on top of the soup when you serve it. How about that?
3 tablespoons olive oil (see note above for cooking without oil)
1 small onion, chopped
1large garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stick with inner leaves, chopped
1 small can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups lentils (regular kind, not du Pui or beluga)
1/2 cup barley
A handful cherry tomatoes, orange and yellow, quartered
Heat olive oil (or stock) in a large pot, add the onion and cook until translucent.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the thyme and then the carrots and celery and continue cooking until vegetables begin to soften but not brown.
Add the can of tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.
Add the lentils and barley as well as 6 cups of the stock and bring to a boil.
Add the halved cherry tomatoes, lower heat to a steady simmer and cook until the lentils are cooked through, adding more stock as necessary for the consistency you prefer (I made it soupy this time).
The soup should be cooked through in about 3-45 minutes.
Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
If you wish, drizzle a little herb oil over each serving.
Serve with crusty bread.