One of the things we love about fall is that we start making hearty soups again. We don’t want to heat up the kitchen in the summer, but once those cooler evenings kick in we pull out the stock pots and fill the house with delicious smells. Soups are one of my favorite things to make. Maybe it’s the versatility of soup recipes. You don’t have to measure precisely. If you have a little more of one thing and a little less of another it will still turn out just fine. You can change the flavor and texture by adding meat, beans or rice, or a splash of wine. You can use vegetable stock, chicken stock or beef stock almost interchangeably. Each change makes a subtle difference in the end product, but it’s almost impossible to ruin a soup recipe. And having homemade soup in the refrigerator or freezer means you’ve always got the start of a quick and healthy lunch or dinner.
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups diced celery
4 cups diced carrot
1 tablespoon paprika (Hungarian preferred)
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
2 cups dried lentils (brown, red or green)
2 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh Spinach – 1 bag baby spinach or 1 bunch fresh spinach – chopped
2 cups diced tomato or halved grape or cherry tomatoes (fresh is best but if you don’t have it you can substitute a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup sour cream to garnish
Cooked shredded or diced beef or chicken
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.
Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the paprika and cumin seeds and mix well.
Add the carrots, celery, lentils, chicken stock and black pepper.
Increase heat and bring to a boil
Reduce heat to just keep soup at a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables and lentils are tender, adding water if it becomes too thick.
Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
If you want to add cooked chicken or beef, do so now and return soup to a simmer.
Immediately before serving add the chopped spinach and diced tomatoes.
Cook just long enough to wilt spinach and warm tomatoes – 3 or 4 minutes.