Victoria Amory thinks this soup represents the best of Andalusian country cooking. Though it's a basic recipe—you sauté the aromatic vegetables, add the stock and lentils and simmer until the soup is done—pureeing it adds elegance. You can top the soup with crunchy croutons or even dress it up with a dice of foie gras.
Plus: More Soup Recipes and Tips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces Serrano ham or lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 quarts plus 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 cups brown lentils (3/4 pound), rinsed and picked over
2 cups firm-textured white bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in the olive oil. Add the Serrano ham, onion, leek and carrot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the stock and lentils and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Simmer the soup over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the diced bread with the melted butter and bake for 8 minutes, or until browned.
Puree the soup in a blender in batches; transfer the puree to a clean saucepan. Add the cream, bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup in bowls, garnished with the croutons.
The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The croutons can be kept in an airtight container overnight.
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