Bacon and Lentil Soup
Ahhh....soup. Perfect for a chilly late fall or winter day, or in this case, May 11th in Kansas when it's 44 and rainy when I should have been grilling steak in sunshine and 75. Anyway, seemed like the perfect time to try a new recipe. We give you, Bacon and Lentil soup.
You know when you're walking down the street and you see that couple and you think to yourself, "WOW, I never would imagined those two were a thing" ...this soup is kind of like that. Sure, it's bacon and that can make anything look better, however, don't be food, the real star here is the lentil. It softens the bacon's hard, crispy, fatty exterior and adds a depth that makes you appreciate bacon and lentils in a whole new way. We originally got this recipe from this book:
There are several recipes in this book we have on repeat. With that said, it's the first time we tried this one and we made a couple of tweaks to suit out tastes. We'll talk about those as we go along and make the notes accordingly. Let's get started
8 ounces of slab bacon
1 large onion finely chopped
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, diced
1 1/2 cups of French Green Lentils, rinsed and picked over
(*Just used store brand brown lentils, worked fine.)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
(*We went closer 2 teaspoons....personal preference, taste your food and adjust to your taste)
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
(*We went closer to 2 teaspoons....again, personal preference)
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
(*In our opinion, this was the biggest short coming. Even if you don't like spicy food, 1/4 teaspoon is very subtle. We went 3/4 of a teaspoon an it added a nice warmth too it.)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
Salt to taste (this is important, remember the bacon and chicken broth will have plenty of salt, be careful not to over salt. Taste your food)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
(*This is mostly for color and a little freshness. For this we prefer a couple of green onions for garnish...personal preference. Also, Michelle had hers with a little "dutz" of sour cream. She enjoyed it that way.)
Cut the bacon (slab or regular) into 1/4 inch pieces. (*The original recipe says to set some of the bacon aside to add in a later stage in the soup. We went another route. Instead, we took that small bit of bacon and cooked it first, crispy, to use for garnish later. It actually gave you something that resembles a bacon texture which is what the soup needed since the rest of the bacon, while cooked, is soft because it's cooked in the soup with everything else)
Cook the rest of the bacon until lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered.
Add the onion and carrots , cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until the veggies soften. Stir in the lentils, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper and season with black pepper. Cover and cook on medium low for about 5-7 minutes until lentils soften a bit. Covered, this allows the lentils to start enhancing the bacon and absorb the rest of those great flavors in the bacon drippings.
Add the chicken stock, white wine, tomato paste, bay leaf and 2 more cups of water. (this is where the original recipe wanted you to add the remaining raw bacon. Do that here if you wish or go with our step instead). Cover and let come to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 30 minutes. You want the lentils tender but you want to recognize them as lentils and not mush. Skim the fat off if you wish.
Discard the bay leaf. Unlike finding the baby Jesus in the king cake, there is no lucky tradition in finding this in your bowl once it's serve or even worse, in your mouth. The original recipe also says to discard that last minute bacon your put in before the simmer. Again, do that if you wish, but that seems like a waste of bacon, so that's why we changed it up. Tastes your food, add salt and pepper if needed. If soup seems too thick, add a little water. Michelle likes her soup like she likes her men, thick. I like my soup like my deli meat sliced....thin. Ladle in the bowl, garnish with parsley (or green onion) and serve.
AFTER THOUGHT: Damn, I should have thawed that homemade bread in the freezer. A nice crusty piece of warm bread and melted butter would have been great with this. Oh well, next time. Enjoy