My favorite kind of Sunday is one that finds me in the kitchen, readying for the week ahead. My preferred provisions include a homemade soup for lunches and quick dinners, and a baked good, like perfect blueberry muffins, to perk up mornings at the office.
Before I started my first job and effectively joined the real world I remember wanting to be the kind of home cook who makes a great soup, for some reason this equated with being an adult to me. What I've learned is that anyone can be this kind of home cook, it just takes making a lot of soup. I'm proud to say that I've put in the time at the stove and have become the kind of home cook I want to be, at least when it comes to soup. Although I'll occasionally try a new soup I really have just two that I make: lentil soup and a black bean soup. Both are hearty, satisfying and come together in an hour but can simmer for an afternoon if you have the time.
Just last week I added another tweak (the addition of farro) to my standby lentil soup and it was the best rendition yet. I have another batch in the fridge this evening and earlier braved the curious toddler to snap a photo so that I could finally share this recipe with you.
My inspirations for this recipe include those found in the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home and in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (this link is to the updated version, which I do not have. I assume this one still includes the recipe I have used which is called hearty lentil soup). Deborah Madison's recipe gave me the "secret" ingredients of spicy brown mustard and red wine vinegar that, I think, turn this soup into soup!.
Sunday Lentil Soup
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 - 3 carrots, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry lentils, sorted and rinsed OR one package of Trader Joe's steamed lentils
1 cup quick cooking farro
2 bay leaves
2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Water and, if preferred, vegetable broth (usually I only use water, mostly because I never remember to buy broth)
2 T spicy brown mustard
2 T red wine vinegar
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and carrots and cook for about two minutes. Add can of tomatoes, lentils, farro, herbs, Worcestershire sauce and water/broth. Chris and I prefer our soup to be more like a stew and so I tend to add less water. At this point in the recipe I add enough water to give the ingredients room to swim comfortably and then cook everything down to the consistency I prefer, adding more water or broth along the way if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Finally, stir in the mustard and vinegar, which are the secret ingredients that will give your soup oomph. In fact, adding spicy brown mustard and red wine vinegar is now something I do to just about any soup recipe that I try. It was a great addition to this one, which has the potential to become a standby.
This soup is fabulous when generously topped with parmesan cheese and even more so with crusty homemade croutons.