Lentil Soup with Veggies and Pasta:
My mom was recently visiting. Like most moms, mine is known for throwing ingredients together and coming up with something delicious to eat — without even having a written recipe. Not a big deal, right? It’s a bit of an issue for me since I’m not really one to wing it much when cooking (I’m a little Type A — maybe that has something to do with it?). So to finally get a written recipe for this soup makes me very happy!
I used to think there was a big secret or heavy lifting behind cooking lentils, but I was wrong. Lentils are quick-cooking and easy to make, and so is lentil soup. This version, my mom’s go-to for years (and now mine), includes veggies and pasta in the mix. I make mine more thick and creamy, but either way, it’s super hearty (don’t forget the health benefits of lentils) and delicious.
Add just about anything to this soup
I had to run out on a few quick errands and my mom stayed behind in my kitchen. When I got home, something smelled too good to be true — it was lentil soup! I wondered how this happened so quickly — did I even have the right ingredients in the house? My mom told me that all she did was open the fridge and a few cupboards and suddenly, soup was on.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can pretty much add whatever vegetables and seasonings you have available and it’ll likely be delicious. My mom told me that she often uses leftover mashed potatoes instead of the cream of mushroom (or celery) soup, and adds a bit of milk to thin them in place of the water. I once used salsa when I was out of tomato sauce. It worked out really well!
After we each ate a bowl I had her sit with me so she could walk me through her steps to soup. This is her “recipe.” It can be hard to give someone a written recipe that’s in your head — especially this one where substitutions are likely. I used my mom’s version and tweaked it a little, which you’ll probably do, too.
My post originally appeared on The Daily Meal.
Recipe for Lentil Soup with Veggies and Pasta:
Serves 6-8 people
- 1 cup of lentils, rinsed
- 1 cup of spaghetti or fettuccine broken into small pieces (or use small pastina)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 3 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped (you can substitute about 1 teaspoon dried herbs if you don't have fresh. I used Italian seasonings)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1, 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese for garnish
- 1-2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled into small pieces (or about 1/4 cup cooked pancetta)
- Add 4 cups of water (or enough to cover the lentils plus about 2 extra inches) and the lentils to a medium-sized, deep saute pan over medium heat. Cook with the lid just slightly off the pan, for about 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender.
- Meanwhile, if you're using bacon (or pancetta), add it to a saute pan and cook over medium-high heat until done. When cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces and set aside.
- In a large, deep saute pan over low-to-medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion, carrots, garlic and celery and cook until almost soft. Add the tomato sauce, parsley, cream of mushroom or celery soup, 3 cups of water, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta, lower the heat and cook until the pasta is tender.
- Drain your lentils when they're almost soft and add them to the pasta and cook, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes until they're soft. Add the red pepper flakes and adjust the seasonings to your taste. If you think your soup should be a bit creamier, make a roux (I used 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon flour and that was sufficient) and slowly whisk it into the lentil and pasta mixture and make sure it's incorporated into the soup. If you like it thinner, add a bit more water. Add your bacon or pancetta if your using it and mix it into the soup.
- When you're ready to serve, add to individual bowls and sprinkle with fresh grated Romano cheese.