Lentil Soup & Friday Night in the South of France

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It’s just about 9 o’clock on Friday night and it’s 53 degrees in Boston—which is officially soup weather in my book. It’s late to be starting a pot of soup, but somehow that’s not stopping me.

Now, let me take a step back.

Inadvertently, tonight’s dinner has a theme of sorts. Normally, this is kind of a cringe-worthy idea, as The Angry Chef and I aren’t really the kind of folks who plan meals in advance.

But tonight just kind of worked out. Bear with me, I’ll get to the lentil soup. I swear.

One of the best red wines you might ever have
For the last few days, I’ve been eyeing a bottle of wine that my folks gave me a few months ago—a Bandol from Domaine Tempier in the south of France. Without question, it’s one of my favorite red wines of all times.

This wine is dark and jammy with a little bit of spice.

It begs to be poured freely and served with plates of stinky cheese and crusty bread, platters of roasted meat with mushrooms, and hearty soups and stews. You see where I’m going with this.

(I’ve said it before: I could be part Hobbit.)

At any rate, Bandol wines are made from Mourvedre grapes, which come from some of the oldest vines in Provence. It’s generally accepted that the Romans planted the first vines 2,500 years ago.

All I can say is: The Romans knew what they were doing.

If you can get your hands on a bottle, I highly recommend trying it out. While I prefer the reds, Domaine Tempier is also known for their roses.

A vineyard that knows its wine—and its food
Located in between Marseilles and Toulon, Domaine Tempier is owned by the Peyraud family.

The story of the vineyard—along with the enchanting and romantic story of how Lucie Tempier married Lucien Peyraud in 1936—is recounted in excellent detail in the book Lulu’s Provencal Table by Richard Olney.

The book is packed with history, lore, anecdotes, and—of course—a host of mouthwatering recipes from Lucie, herself. It makes for an excellent read, and a great reference when you actually bring it into your kitchen.

Which brings me to my lentil soup
So, like I said, tonight is a good night for soup. Given that my mouth was watering for the bottle of Bandol, I hunted through my pantry until I found my package of French Le Puy lentils.

These lentils are smaller and a deeper green in color than most ordinary lentils. I like them because they stay slightly firmer when cooked, so your soup has some texture to it.

This soup is really simple: lentils, carrots, garlic, chicken stock, a few herbs. You could add some onions, if you like, or some mushrooms or a tiny bit of bacon, but I like it as is. I venture to say that it would be at home on a vineyard table.

It’s simple and hearty and a really nice, warm thing to have for a late supper when it’s just starting to get cold.

Simple Lentil Soup

2 Tbls. pure olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups Le Puy lentils
5 cups chicken stock
7 cloves garlic, put through a press
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp. rosemary
10 baby carrots, cut in thirds

Put the olive oil and the kosher salt in a medium-sized pot. Add the lentils. Stir to coat completely. Saute the lentils over medium-high heat for a minute or two to warm them up.

Add the chicken stock. Stir to combine.

Toss in the garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, and carrots. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat for about a half an hour, stirring occasionally.

After about a half an hour, uncover your pot. Give your soup a stir. Taste it and add more salt or even a little garlic powder if you think it needs it. If it’s already getting really thick (you’ll know because it will start sticking to the bottom of the pot), stir in another half a cup or so of chicken stock or water.

Cover your pot back up. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and the carrots are completely cooked through.

After about 15 more minutes, your soup will be really thick. If you want it even thicker, mash some of the lentils against the side of the pot with the back of your spoon. Stir to combine.

Give your soup one last taste adjust the seasoning as necessary. I tend to like my soups on the salty side, so I usually toss in a little more kosher salt. If you like it as it is, it’s ready to serve.

Dish it up and enjoy with a bottle of Bandol or other hearty red wine.

A note on reheating
In the refrigerator, the lentils will suck up all the remaining broth in the soup. That’s OK.

When you want to reheat it, put your soup in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Add water or chicken stock little by little, stirring as you go until you reach the consistency you want.

Bring it up to a simmer and hold it there for a minute or two, to reintroduce all the flavors. Serve at once.
Digg!

***
Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

10 COMMENTS

  1. This looks divine! As soon as the weather in Texas dips below 90, I'll join you in a soup mood! While I wait I better track down that wine to taste...I'll keep you posted on my success.
  2. Those are really pretty lentils! I'll have to keep an eye out for them. We use red lentils a lot for making some various pan-Mediterranean dishes. We're actually making Lentil soup tomorrow, with boring regular lentils, I'm afraid. The soup hails from Italy and will feature the beautiful Swiss Chard I got with my CSA box this week and some Parmesan Reggiano. Alas, our colds will keep us from touring Italian wines with our soup...
  3. The first few times I checked out your blog I had the impression you were British! I thought you lived in England, little hobbit. Great post! You gave me a lovely picure in my head of the vineyard table, setting and all.
  4. I love how you included the reheating instructions. As there are only two of us in my house, I often have food leftover that we enjoy for lunch - this takes the guesswork out of round 2!
  5. Ivy--Thanks! And tomatoes sound like a great addition. I'll try that next time. HoneyB--It's definitely getting to be soup weather! (Hooray!) Saucymomma--OMG, 90 degrees! You should come to Boston! Lisa--Hope you're feeling better! I'll keep an eye out for red lentils. Oddly enough, I'm not sure I've ever used them... Reeni--Thanks, hon! Hehe...I'm not British. :D I just love Tolkien. The change of seasons always makes me feel mildly Hobbit-y, as I find myself putting bacon in almost everything... Haleysuzanne--Thanks! Definitely thin it out with some extra stock. Or...you can reheat it as is for more of a side dish. Kang--Thanks! Let me know if you find it and what you think. It's definitely not the cheapest wine out there, but I think it's well worth it, once in a while at least. :D +Jessie
  6. I came across your blog while trying to find an online copy of Lulu's recipe which I ultimately discovered is available, scanned, on google. The great thing about recipes is that they serve as sources of inspiration for whatever you choose to do and lentil soup calls for improvisation. Your version looks delicious. Yet, I would hope that others reading your blog would also consult the original recipe which is very, very different. Lulu's soup calls for a lower ratio of lentils to cooking liquid and, as is most common, she calls for water rather than stock. The only flavoring agents are a full head of garlic, salt, and olive oil. The finished soup is then pured and served with croutons made by frying crustless bread in olive oil. When I feel like making this particular lentil soup, I like to start with two strips of bacon that I cut into lardons and fry in the soup pot. Fish them out to drain. Dump out most of the fat. Then continue w Lulu's recipe, though, I also plop in a rind of Parmesan cheese for additional flavor, after I return the bacon pieces to the soup pot.
  7. I've had lentils in my cupboard forever and I figured I'd stop by to see if you had a recipe and I'm so glad I did. This is the second recipe of yours that I've made, the first being the Guinness braised short ribs (omg, so tasty). It's 110 here in Phoenix today and this soup is still a big hit!

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