I don’t usually get into soup during the summer months. Around here we’ve had more days of 100 plus heat than not. These last few months, my shades are drawn, the air cranked high, fans oscillating to no effect.
Soup remains securely tucked in the back of my mind. Back beyond knitted sweaters and roaring fireplaces sits pots and bowls of soups, warm and toasty. Not summer.
But yesterday the heat broke. When I left the house for work there was the slightest chill in the air. It felt like fall. Temperature was in the 60s and a light breeze rustled through the trees. For the briefest moment, I was able to almost convince myself it was October. It felt like fall. It felt like soup.
Today I awoke to the sounds of rain hitting the side of the house. And I knew it was soup time. Leeks, carrot, potato, green beans, kale, and fresh herbs mix with lentils in a broth that cooks down into a creamy smoothness.
It’s just rich enough for a cool summer’s day. Just a hint of what’s to come.
Lentil Vegetable Stew
Makes 4 servings
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 leek, dark leaves trimmed off, washed clean of all dirt, and sliced into 1/4 inch chunks
3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup small chopped, peeled carrots
1/2 cup trimmed green beans, cut into 1 to 1.5 inch lengths
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1.5 cups lentils, sorted
1 cup roughly chopped kale leaves
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
squeeze fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Shaved parmesan, optional to top
Begin by heating the olive oil and butter in a large pot. Saute the leeks and potatoes until the leeks are soft. Add the garlic, carrots, and green beans. Using kitchen twine, securely tie together the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Add the herbs to the pot with the bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Pour in the chicken broth and add two more cans worth of water. Add the lentils and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the lentils are cooked. Approximately 20-30 minutes. At this point, the potatoes should also be tender, but the carrots and green beans will retain some bite. Add the kale and parsley and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until wilted. Squeeze in enough fresh lemon juice to brighten the stew, approximately 2-3 Tablespoons. Salt and pepper, to taste. Discard the herb bundle and bay leaf.
Serve with shaved parmesan, if desired.