Chef Dina

Now available for Bay Area full service catering in conjunction with "A Fork Full of Earth" organic catering, intimate dinner parties and weekly meal preparation.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

French country lentil soup

Soup, soup, and more soup. Ok, so I'm into it.  It's so easy, so inexpensive, so nourishing and so convenient to make large quantities and freeze it in meal size batches.  With that said, I've got another one for ya.  I call it "French" country lentil because I get my mushroom stock from the French guy at the market. I think his stock makes this soup extra delicious.  Stock is really the key here, people, as in most soups. Said frenchman is a very charming guy named Gui (Pronounced Gee in French) that has a business selling brioche savory pies, "Le Fleur de Lyon". Yummy.  Secret- he sells three different kinds of stock: chicken, tomato, or mushroom for $4/qt if you ask.  If you live in Marin, he is at the Civic Center farmers market on Thursdays or for East Bay folks, you can find him at the Grand Lake market. I have found his rich mushroom stock yields the best results of all the stocks I have tried.  You can, of course, always use the organic Better Than Boullion vegetable or chicken base or make your own mushroom stock and the soup will be just as yummy.

How do I make my own mushroom stock you ask?  Well, get a medley of dried mushrooms- about 5oz (Costco- great to have them around to add that umami punch to soups and sauces), some fresh rosemary from you or your neighbors yard, a whole onion and a whole head of garlic. Go ahead and leave the skins on- just cut them in half.  Put all this in 5 qts of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30-45 min.  This will make a gallon of stock- 4x more than what you need so you can throw a few quarts in the freezer for next time...and the time after that.

French country lentil soup
makes 2 quarts

1/4 cup oil
1 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp tomato paste
3/4 cup diced tomato
1 cup rinsed green or brown lentils
1 qt mushroom stock
1 cup water (or just more stock if you have it)

Heat oil in a pot and saute the first 7 ingredients until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook a few minutes more. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Add the stock, cover and simmer until lentils are tender. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.  If it isn't the most delicious lentil soup you have ever had, add a little more cumin, salt, pepper or a little more Better Than Boullion base to enhance the flavor a bit.

Enjoy with some crusty bread and goat cheese. You're gonna love it!

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