OK – it’s still winter – a/k/a the flu season. But like the smart grown-ups we are, my husband and I got our flu shots early. No way were we going to get the flu. Well, as we all know, the flu isn’t the only “disease” you can get in winter… there’s always the tried and true severe winter cold, coupled with severe bronchitis. And, for a couple of weeks in February we were house/couch/bed ridden with both. Our house looked like an infirmary and sounded like a TB ward… cough, cough, cough – sniffle, sniffle, sniffle. Woe was me. Woe was us.
There’s an adage: feed a cold, starve a fever. So, since neither of us had a temperature past 100, we entered into “feed a cold” mode. We made improv chicken soup from box broth, frozen chicken dumplings from TJ’s and fresh veggies… even had a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle and tomato soup for a couple of lunches, but as our health improved slightly, our taste buds became more discerning. We wanted really homemade soup, even gourmet-y… But we were still too weak to make a run to a market.
Hence, my husband’s own lentil soup. Well, maybe not his own, but his version of a French lentil soup. We had about two tons of lentils in our ‘larder’ he bought for a dollar somewhere, so why not? We had spices and some aging carrots, wilting celery and a yellow onion. Perfect for soup. But we didn’t have a fresh tomato in the house… not even a can of peeled and chopped or stewed tomatoes. We were tomato-less until he found a congealed jar of sun-dried tomatoes in the back of the fridge. After warming the jar to liquefy the oil he drained them, cut them up and added them to the mix. A tomato is a tomato, right?
We’re better now, but the memory of that lentil soup was sun-dried scrumptious and healthful (all that protein and fiber, ya know). Sometimes you just need a change from chicken soup when you’ve got a cold.
My Husband’s French Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 lb. lentils
1 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes (or one jar of drained sun-dried tomatoes)
Spinach (my husband's addition)
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon pepper
a dash of balsamic for color and taste (again, my husband's addition)
Heat oil in pot. Over a medium/low flame, add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and salt and “sweat” seven minutes or so.
Add lentils, tomato stock, coriander, cumin and pepper and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, then add that dash of balsamic and the fresh spinach (thawed and drained frozen spinach also works), cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes.