This will be the first in a long line of lentil soup posts. The weather has changed, and lentil soup was definitely in order yesterday! I will probably be making some variation on this soup every week for the next 6 months or more. Once upon a time I ate a lot of canned soup, because it's so easy and nourishing, but it really can't hold a candle to homemade.
This is a particularly wonderful time of year for this soup because there are still fresh tomatoes around. In a few weeks, and until next year, I will of course wind up using canned tomatoes, or none at all. The ingredients and the proportions can take all kinds of mixing up and the results are still just what you need.
2 leeks, halved and sliced thinly
1/2 an onion rescued from becoming compost in the fridge
1 fat garlic clove
3 sprigs parsley
1 or 2 big sprigs of thyme
2-3 T. olive oil
4 carrots, halved and sliced into half-circles
4 smallish potatoes, in 1/2 inch dice
1 cup French lentils
4 large plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 a bunch of broccoli raab, stemmed and chopped
more olive oil to drizzle over the top
Cook lentils in four cups of water and a half-teaspoon of salt.
Saute the onions in the oil with 1/2 tsp of salt for 5 or 10 minutes, then add the leeks and the herbs and a little water and cover, allowing them to "braise" a little. After another 10 minutes, raise the heat to medium high and add the carrots and potatoes. Stir often, but allow to caramelize a bit. Crush or chop the garlic and add it. Stir for another minute, and then dump in the cooked lentils. Add a little more salt, and then bring to a boil. I also added more water at this point because I wanted a big pot of soup. After it comes to a boil, turn it down to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and potatoes are nearly tender. Add the tomatoes and continue to simmer.
Meanwhile drop the broccoli raab into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and add to the soup. Fish out the herb sprigs before serving.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle olive oil over the top of each bowl.