Imagine the following scenario – you’re partway through cooking a standby recipe that calls for standby ingredients that you always have in your kitchen. Except, when you go to add that one ingredient you realize that you’re either going to have to turn off the stove or the oven, drive to the store and buy that vital missing link or you’re going to have to get creative. This is what happened to me a few weeks ago and I’m actually pretty glad, because it turned me on to a new version of an old recipe I’ve been making for at least ten years.
I make lentil soup pretty frequently, and I have never altered the recipe. I’ve pretty much been making the same recipe over and over and over, and couldn’t have been happier with the results. All you need is lentils, an onion, a few cloves of garlic, a can of tomatoes, a couple of bay leaves, some salt, a little oil and enough water you’ve got a hearty and delicious soup in about half an hour or forty-five minutes.
On that fateful day a few weeks ago I had all of those ingredients except for the can of tomatoes. This soup needs tomatoes. It begs for tomatoes. It just doesn’t make sense without tomatoes. I literally stood at the pantry with a quizzical look on my face for at least a minute or two wondering how on earth I was going to fix this dilemma when I spied a can of salsa.
You have to realize that I don’t like store-bought salsa all that much. I much prefer freshly made salsa with all fresh ingredients, but recently I’ve been on a chipotle kick and have been enjoying the chipotle salsa from Trader Joe’s. I grabbed the jar in my pantry, thought “Why not? I make this all the time, so what’s one bad batch of soup if this doesn’t work?” I added in a few tablespoons, then I threw caution to the wind and dumped the whole thing in there. That plus a can of corn, and I knew that this was truly a great solution to my kitchen dilemma.
Southwestern Lentil Soup
This makes enough to serve about four people.
- 1/2 pound dry lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
- 2 or 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa (i.e. Trader Joe’s Garlic Chipotle Salsa) or 1 16-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 16-ounce can sweet corn or 1 10-ounce bag frozen sweet corn
Sort and rinse your lentils, then put in a large cooking pot. Add water to about an inch above your lentils. You may need to add more water later, which is fine. Add your salt, oil and bay leaves and turn on the heat to medium-high.
Chop up your onions and garlic.
Add the onions, garlic and frozen corn to your soup and stir everything together.
Allow it to cook for a few minutes, then pour in the jar of salsa (or can of crushed or diced tomatoes).
Allow the soup to simmer, and stir occasionally. At this point you’ll want to turn down the heat to about medium so that the liquid will not evaporate more quickly than the lentils have time to cook.
After about twenty minutes check the lentils to see if they have cooked through. You want to be sure that they are soft but not mushy. The liquid may have still cooked off a little bit, so you may want to add an extra cup or two to make sure it is still soupy.
Once the soup is done, discard the bay leaves (don’t eat them), then serve with vegan buttered bread or toast or with tortilla chips. For a creamier soup, add about a tablespoon of Vegenaise to an individual serving of soup.
Do you make lentil soup? If so, how do you enjoy making it?
P.S. Check out my new vegan community on www.Lunch.com, Vegan Living. I am going to be sharing more about this in a future post, but wanted to let you in on the secret a little bit early.