Hearty lentil soup with tomatoes [Vegan]

Jaymi's Notes: I cooked up this recipe for dinner. It took less than an hour from start to finish. It is incredibly easy (a big bonus for cooking it on a busy night) and makes plenty for leftovers. What took me by surprise was how spicy this dish is. Lentil dishes have a reputation for being a bit bland, but this soup packs a flavorful kick. While I loved the spice, my partner thought to mellow hers out with a little bit of sour cream. We loved it, and are excited to have leftovers in the fridge for later this week.

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Kelly's Recipe:
My husband and I just spent a weekend up north and it was mighty cold where we were. All I could think about was making a hearty soup, so as soon as I got home, that's just what I did. I've decided that this fall I'm going to rely more heavily than usual on my pantry rather than shop specifically for recipe ingredients. It's all part of my personal campaign to de-clutter my life, keep only what I need and use what I have.

What could be more in keeping with this attitude that a big pot of soup made with lentils, tomatoes that I canned myself, and carrots from my mother's garden? There is nothing fancy here, just a healthy, easy, delicious soup. I would have added some kale from the garden, but that's for dinner. You can use any kind of lentils you like here. I used green lentils, but you could also use brown or red lentils, which both cook faster than green. I kept the water to a minimum, because I wanted a chunky soup, but feel free to add more. I had a heel of stale bread so I made croutons by sauteeing a bit of garlic in olive oil and then adding the cut bread and cooking it until the bread was golden. I did add some Parmesan cheese for the garnish, but other than that, this soup is vegan.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Lentil Soup with Tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stock, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup lentils, picked over carefully and rinsed
1 can tomatoes, including liquid
4 cups water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Croutons for garnish (optional - omit for vegan version)
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional - omit for vegan version)

1. In a large pot heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add onion and cook until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook until they begin to soften, another 5 minutes.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

2. Add herbs and lentils and stir until lentils are coated. Cook for a minute. Add tomatoes, breaking them up if they are whole. Add water and stir. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer and cook until lentils have softened and are cooked through, about 35 to 40 minutes.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

3. Blend with an immersion blender, so that the soup is smoother, but still contains chunks of vegetables.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

3. Ladle into bowls and add garnish, if using. Serve immediately.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Tags: Fruits & Vegetables | Recipes | The Cooking Project | Tomatoes | Weekday Vegetarian