From the Pantry to the Soup Bowl

lentil-and-mushroom-soupWhat do Brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms have in common? They were all in my pantry begging to be made into soup. The lentils looked lonely, too, so I threw them into the mix. Hearty soups are best made in the winter, after all, even if the term “winter” doesn’t seem to currently imply snow. (Glad I’m no longer a little kid in snow pants raring to go with my toboggan!)

It’s worth keeping a few soup essentials on hand in the chilly months: good-quality broth (my favorite is Pacific’s organic free-range chicken), onions, garlic, dried spices, maybe a few root vegetables like carrots and turnips. All of those make great backdrops for heartier elements like beans, lentils, whole grains, and meats. Stirring in some cream and cheese at the last minute is another simple way to transform a thin broth into a thick, rich soup.

For this batch, I opted to roast a few of the veggies and sautée the rest to create a variety of textures in the finished soup. You can go the roasting route, too, or you can stir in the potatoes and Brussels sprouts with the lentils and let them simmer to tenderness.

Lentil & Mushroom Soup with Roasted Potatoes

Makes 6 ample servings.

1 baking potato (Idaho), cut into 1″ cubes

About 10 Brussels sprouts, halved

2 small onions OR 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped or slivered

4 cups/32 oz. chicken OR vegetable broth (if you go with chicken, opt for free-range)

1 T. dried Italian seasoning OR a total of 1 T. of rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and sage

1/2 cup brown lentils

1 carrot, diced

Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the cubed potato in a large bowl, drizzle in a little extra-virgin olive oil, shake on a little salt and pepper, and toss well with your hands. Spread out onto one of the baking sheets. Put the Brussels sprouts in the bowl and repeat the same process (oil, salt, pepper, toss). Place cut side down on the other sheet.*

Roast for 20 minutes, then pull out the sprouts. Let the potatoes bake for another 15 minutes or until they’re golden brown and very dry to the touch. (That crispy dryness means they won’t get soggy in the soup!)*

While your veggies are roasting, make the soup. Begin by sautéeing onions in a dab of ghee/butter or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to sautée for another 5 minutes or until mushrooms are shrunken and soft. Stir in garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

Pour in broth. Stir in spices, lentils, and carrot. Simmer over medium-low heat (reduce to low if the soup is bubble-boiling rather than ripple-simmering) for 20 minutes or until lentils have reached desired tenderness. By now, the potatoes should be done, so go ahead and stir in the roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Season with a pinch or two of salt – taste as you go! – and serve. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Note that soup will thicken upon standing. I like not-so-brothy soup, but if you’d rather have more broth, pour a little fresh broth into your next-day soup and mix well before reheating. Serve with grated or shaved Parmesan if you like.

Enjoy!

* If you’d rather skip the roasting, proceed directly to making the soup. When you add the lentils, set your timer for 10 minutes. Add the halved sprouts and the cubed potatoes at that point and simmer everything for a final 10 minutes.

Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

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