The other day I was at the local coffee shop and overheard a girl describe how she was going to make a lentil soup. She was talking about how long she was going to cook it, and then the girl she was with talked about lentil soup too. It hit me that perhaps I should try to make friends with these ladies while we were in line so I could get an invitation to enjoy this savory cold-weather food, but alas, this was to no avail.
Lentils were a popular staple in Rome and Greece as early as 6000 BC. While wealthy Greeks rejected lentils as a poor man's food, Hippocrates (the father of medicine) saw their health benefits and prescribed them to patients to help soothe their liver ailments. Lentils have a high amount of choline, which allows the liver to get rid of fats so it can filter out toxins from the bloodstream. Lentils eventually spread to Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere, and may have debuted in the United States in the early 1900s. Lentils are most likely the world's oldest cultivated legume.
Here is a recipe for Lentil Soup, courtesy of Alton Brown at FoodNetwork.com. When you're all done, you can get your bowls clean with Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Gel, made without phosphates or chlorine.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
- 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise
Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and grains of paradise and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately.
Photo: The Cutting Board