French Lentil and Vegetable Soup
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 45 MIN
- SERVINGS: 8 to 10
One of Bobbi Brown's winter staples, this hearty lentil soupfrom the Barefoot Contessa Cookbookgets its robust flavor from small, green French lentils. Also called Le Puy lentils, they are high in soluble fiber, a cholesterol fighter, and less starchy than common brown lentils. Look for French lentils at specialty shops or cybercucina.com (800-796-0116).
- 1 pound French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- Boiling water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 6 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, leeks, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper and the thyme and cumin and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the celery and carrots and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils to the pot. Increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the red wine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
This earthy soup needs a forthright, gutsy red with an earthiness of its own, like a Malbec from Argentina.