I love to cook for my family and friends. It gives me that lovely warm feeling when they tell me how good the food is even if I think they are just being nice because it could be so much better. However, I know they really like it when they ask for the recipe. That is the problem. I’m a renegade cook. I’ll start with a recipe and then go off roading in the ingredient backroads. I’ve often given out a recipe and said, “But I didn’t use this, added this and that, then I ….” Recently I was asked for my Red Lentil Soup recipe. I looked up the recipe I originally used when I started making this soup years ago. It is the awesome Sara Snow’s Lentil Soup recipe. I love her recipes! However, I discovered I have strayed so far from the original recipe it is practically a whole new recipe. So I’m going to try to write up my version. Try mine. Try hers. Enjoy both. It can easily be vegan or not. I prefer vegan but don’t let that turn you away. Everyone who tried it and found it was vegan was very pleased.
The world’s most unappealing food picture of the best lentil soup.
Junebug’s Red Lentil Soup
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 3-4 Garlic Bulbs
- 1 Quart of Vegetable or Chicken Stock
- 1 Quart of Water
- 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil
- 2-4 Strips of Kombu (sea vegetable)
- 4 Carrots
- 4 Celery Stalks
- 1 Butternut Squash
- 2 Zucchini
- 1 28oz. can diced or stewed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 Cups of Red Lentils (rinsed)
I use this recipe mostly as a way to clean out my fridge so this is more of a guideline. Since we eat lots of fresh vegetables I find by the end of the week I have several veg I need to use up before it goes bad. I throw it all in. When I made it yesterday I had a bell pepper. In it went! I had lots of carrots, therefore, I added more than 4 carrots. If I don’t have tomatoes on hand then I skip them. See! This is why it is hard for me to share my recipes. They are constantly evolving and are rarely the same. Once I made the world’s most awesome cookies. After many and many patches of subpar cookies attempting to recreate that awesome cookie, I discovered the difference was as simple as I had used the last of my Mexican vanilla on the first batch. Mexican vanilla is VERY different from what is passed as vanilla in America but that is a post for another day.
In a large stock pot add your coconut oil, chopped onion, diced garlic and if you add bell pepper add it now. Sauté these ingredients for 3-5 minutes on medium heat until the onion is slightly translucent.
Did you know the easiest way in the world to peel garlic? Set it on the board. Lay your knife down flat and smack on top of the knife smashing the garlic bulb. The garlic wrap will peel right off. When I discovered this little trick I actually did a jig!!
Add all the other ingredients except for the lentils.
This is Kombu. I love it! You throw a few strips into your soup and usually by the time the soup is ready it has dissolved leaving your soup flavored nicely with sea salt. You will notice I do not have salt on the ingredients list. With Kombu, you don’t even miss it. It is edible but if it doesn’t dissolve and you don’t want to eat it just take it out when you remove the bay leaves before serving. It is usually found in the Asian food area at the store.
Bring the pot to boil, cover, reduce temperature to low and let simmer. If you are eating it within 30 minutes, add the lentils with all the other ingredients. If you are letting the pot simmer for several hours while you wait for your guests or husband to come home, add the lentils 30 minutes before you plan to serve the soup.
Vegan vs Non-Vegan
The only difference in this soup making it Vegan or not is in the stock.
My favorite is Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian stock. It is so yummy. I keep a jar at all times and I keep a box of bouillon cubes on hand in case I run out of the jar while cooking. On occasion I will have homemade bone broth and I will use it which, of course, makes it non-vegan. All are good! It is what you like best or what you have on hand.
I will add I love butternut squash. I use it in many recipes which ask for white potatoes. Try butternut squash in place of potatoes the next time you make Beef Stew and you will love me forever! It adds a nice nutty flavor while still giving you the same texture of potatoes.
Are you a Kitchen Renegade or do you color within the recipe lines?