Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lemon-lentil soup with mustard greens

Lemon-lentil soup with mustard greens. © Ryan Schierling
Ryan asked me an interesting question this week, "What are your three favorite soups that we make?" That's a tough question because Ryan has a knack for making soup out of virtually anything, and there are plenty of delicious one-offs that never make it to the blog or get repeated. To him, just about every soup created on the first go-round is a "throw-together" recipe. Knowing this, I have learned that if I really like something and want to see it in regular rotation, I cannot rely on him to write it down or remember what he did – I must take it upon myself to transcribe it immediately.

This was the case for me last Fall when I kinda totally went nuts for this lentil soupI like lentils in spite of the terrible "lentil loaf" I was fed as a kid (sorry Mom!) but generally don't get effusive for them in this way. I was putting this recipe to paper before the dishes were cleared, and then made it again myself a week later. After that I went a bit off the rails and started sending the recipe in unsolicited emails to friends and family members because... "OMG these plain old cheap brown lentils are amazing and this soup is so fiber-rich and good for you...!"

Alright, on some level Ryan was right about this being a "throw-together" recipe. It begins with a classic mirepoix and builds simply from there with lentils, mustard greens and fresh lemon juice. It is filling and bright, and leafy greens bathing in a warm broth is one of my favorite ways to eat them. So, while in no way shocking or revolutionary, this has already been made repeatedly in our home and deserves its moment on this blog. Plus, it gives me great joy when food this satisfying is also excellently nutritious and ridiculously economical.

An interesting realization emerged as I gave it some thought to Ryan's question (which I dare not answer here, as today's answer could change tomorrow); many of my favorite soups are graced to some degree with the bright flavor of fresh lemon juice.

So here it is. Lemony deliciousness.

Lemon-Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

1 yellow onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced small
2 large carrots, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 teaspoons organic vegetable Better-than-bullion 
8-10 cups water 
1 pound brown lentils
1 whole "bunch" mustard greens, chopped stems removed (or minimum 2 cups)
2 tablespoons basil, dried or fresh
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
Juice of up to 3 lemons (to taste – depends on how large or juicy the lemons)
Salt and pepper to taste

In 5-6 quart pot, sauté the first four ingredients in olive oil until translucent/tender. Dilute Better-than-bullion in water (or use your own or preferred vegetable stock) and add to pot. Sort and rinse lentils and add. Bring up to a simmer and allow to cook for about 20 minutes before adding mustard greens and herbs. Simmer on low heat for another 10-15 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and finish with lemon juice (add gradually, to your taste).

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