Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lentil Soup

This is another recipe from my grandma, and she always said that her best friend, Anita, taught her how to make this soup. Not only does it taste incredible, but it's very nutritious, easy to make, and freezes well. As such, this is a great soup to make on the weekend to have later in the week. If you've cooked the barley and bacon in advance, prep time is not long.

If you have not, simply cook while the soup is simmering to be added near the end of the process. I like to let my soup simmer on a very low heat for about two hours (maybe a little more, even) but you don't need to simmer that long. Also, if you do, you may need to add a little water as you'll certainly lose some during the process--depending on how thick of a soup you like. You can learn how to soak your lentils here.

16 ounces of dried lentils (one bag) or about two dry cups, uncooked, and soaked, try this
2-3 cups of cooked barley (about 1/4 bag dry barley) not quick cook, try this
4-5 carrots sliced, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
4-5 stalks of celery, sliced, with leaves, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
1 medium to large onion, chopped
a few tablespoons of fresh parsley
5-6 slices of cooked nitrate-free bacon, chopped, and 4-5 tbsp of bacon fat, try this
Chicken/ turkey stock and/ or water, enough to fill soup pot (you'll start with half to 2/3 and add more if needed)
Sea salt & pepper to taste

How To:
1. Prep: Make your life easier and cook the bacon and barley in advance (the day before, that morning, etc.) at the same time as you start soaking your lentils. Otherwise, the barley will take about 45-50 minutes and the bacon will take about 15-20 minutes, which you can do while your soup is simmering, but start it now. You do not want to burn the bacon and you will want to reserve the bacon fat.

2. Cook Lentils and Chop: Fill your soup pot 1/2 to 2/3 with water and/ or chicken/ turkey stock and add lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer. While the lentils are cooking, chop the rest of your ingredients.

3. Combine: Add everything else to the soup pot except barley. Season with salt & pepper. Simmer over low heat scraping scum along the top as needed (a foamy looking substance, simply use a spoon and remove - you don't need to be militant about it, just as you occassionally check on the soup). There will not be much since you've prepped your lentils and barley. Simmer 30 minutes to an hour or more, as desired. Add more water/ stock, if needed.

4. Finish: Add barley, bring back to a simmer and re-season as necessary. Serve and/or simmer until ready to serve.

One of the reasons why I love this soup is because I was raised on it. It was something my grandma and aunt cooked for me and one of the first things I learned how to cook on my own. It's incredibly simple and uses incredibly simple ingredients - anyone can make this!

This soup actually reminds me of the story of "stone soup", where a group of strangers come together to make this really wonderful soup from a single stone and a few other simple ingredients. I think this might have been the soup they made.

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  1. You bring the soup, and I shall supply a souffle. Thanks for the sweet comment.
    Lisa, your new follower, who adores barley.

    1. That sounds like a plan. :) I am a new follower as well. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Aren't lentils just wonderful? So cheap, so nutritious, so versatile. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Yes, they are wonderful. Thanks for the comments!


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