it feels like the last time I ate lentil soup was in a past life. and it kind of was. the last time i ate lentil soup i was living in the united states. i was a government contract engineer. i wasn’t happy with my life.
now i live in South Korea. i am the English teacher to almost 600 students who i adore. i give and receive more smiles, hugs, and laughs everyday than ever before. i’m so happy.
the one thing missing from my life for these past, oh geeze, has it really been almost 9 months? has been cooking. back State-side I would cook all the time. I would host 20 person dinner parties in my little Alexandria apartment. I would experiment on my roommate, and on my boyfriends. i live to cook.
but in Korea, cooking became difficult. when I first moved here, I didn’t have a kitchen. bummer. when i began my cooking job i had a kitchen, hooray! but now, where do i find the ingredients i want to use? where do i find my kitchen supplies? spices? i kind of gave up and got myself into a ramen and pasta slump, when i wasn’t out eating with friends.
but now, things are different. now i discovered the baking market. i discovered places i could buy cooking supplies. AND i brought back my treasure trove of herbs and spices (and a few cooking tools) from the USA in an exclusive clothing/kitchen run (aside from the obvious reason i went, to be a bridesmaid in my wonderful friend Gretchen’s wedding).
also, now that i’ve settled on one boy i have free time. haha
yesterday i decided to make one of my favorites, lentil soup. it’s hearty, it’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s for winter. i left my apartment to pick up some lentils from the local large grocer. bonus, while i was there, i ran into one of my third grade cuties. his little smile and excitement of seeing his English teacher out in the wild might tide me over for these weeks coming up with no students.
Lentil soup really is the easiest. Choose your veggies, chop em up, sautee them. Add some stock and your beans, herbs and spices, and simmer until ready! Frankly you don’t need a recipe so I’ll just give you an idea.
1-2 tablespoons oil (olive, preferably)
1 cup lentils, rinsed and separated
4-5 cups chicken stock (or veggie, or whatever kind your little heart desires)
2 celery stalks, chopped roughly
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
1/2 cup mushroom, chopped
2 heads of garlic, smashed and minced
1 can of diced tomatoes (i couldn’t find them so i cut up a can of whole tomatoes)
+ half the broth from the can
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cracked pepper
sprinkling of crushed reds (i love spicy food)
1-2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
- Chop up those vegemables until they’re the size you want. Heat up the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, toss in all those veggies. Sautee until they are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Stirring regularly. *if you are using meat, use this step to brown the meat as well (before adding the veggies)
- Toss in your lentils along with your chicken broth, adding more broth for soupier soup, and less for thicker soup. Add in all your spices and herbs and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 15-45 minutes (it really depends on your lentils, check the bag). skim off scum as you so, if you want.
- Mix in the baby spinach and stir until wilted.
That’s it, you’re done. I love love eating my lentil soup with a generous splash of vinegar (red wine or apple cider are my favorites) AND i like to eat it with some buttered up crusty bread.
You can also make it curry flavored with turmeric, and curry powder and…mmm. You can add potatoes, sweet potato, squash. Noodles. You can add meat – sausage, bacon, ham, turkey. The sky is the limit, seriously.
I’m so glad there’s some left at home for dinner tonight. So glad.
*disclaimer: sorry for the crap photos, no natural lighting available!