Recipes
Recipe Categories
Back to list  Email to a friend  Printer friendly version  PDF Version
 Recipe 
Title Chicken Lentil Soup. 
        
        
Preparation time Forever, if done right. 
Servings lots, if done right. 
Ingredients Bacon
Bacon Fat
More Bacon
vidalia or Sweet Onion
Celery
Carrot
Garlic
Tomato
Rosemary
Oregano
Thyme
Mild Curry Powder
water
Green lentils
Red lentils
Chicken
MUshrooms
Unsalted Butter
Parsley
Grated hard cheese
Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
Peas (optional) 
Method Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I first started cooking, I used to follow every recipe to the letter. I would measure everything and time everything exactly according to the recipe. The food came out good. But, as time went on I got better at cooking. I also got lazy about measuring and timing. Now I cook by my senses. "How does it taste?" "How does it smell?" "How does it look?" How does it feel?" And everything comes out MUCH better. So as I explain my recipes, I give a lot of description but no exact measurements. The measurements I do use are essentially approximation that you should take as just hints.

When done completely from scratch, this recipe will produce a killer chicken soup that is surprisingly healthy. The garlic, onions, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and some of the ingredients in the curry, all have recognized medicinal properties. And the lentils and veggies add quite a bit of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. For those Philistines who don't want to do all the steps necessary for perfection, there are shortcuts and I will mention some of them. Remember, however, each time you take a shortcut you get closer to the ultimate shortcut: pop the top off a can of soup and microwave the contents.

You may have noticed that there is no pasta or grain in this soup. I have made it with orzo or rice, among other forms of pasta or grain, but one of the healthier aspects of this soup is that it does not contain either.

Part I - Prepare the stock.

(If you are using canned or boxed stock, open the can or box. If you are using base, follow the instructions on the package. In either case lower your head in shame and skip to Part II.)

1. Roast a bulb of garlic. Warning: the aroma of the roasting garlic will make you amazingly hungry, so you might want to roast some extra garlic and have a baguette handy for slicing. Roasted garlic on a slice of baguette can be amazing. However, save some for later. You'll see why soon.

A. Set a rack in the middle position of your oven.
b. Heat the oven to 400°F.
C. Trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head of a garlic bulb to expose the tops of the garlic cloves.
D. Drizzle 1 or 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the exposed surface of the garlic, letting the oil sink down into the individual cloves.
E. Separate the head of garlic into individual cloves so the cloves will roast more quickly.
F. Remove as much of the "paper" from around the individual cloves as possible.
F. Toss with a bit more olive oil to coat the cloves.
G. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
H. After about 20 minute, begin checking the garlic at 5 - 10 minute intervals.
I. The garlic is done when the big cloves are completely soft when pierced with a paring knife. Even once soft, you can continue roasting until deeply golden for a more caramelized flavor. The best roasting time will depend on the size of your garlic, the variety, and its age.
J. If you decide to roast more than one bulb of garlic so that you will have it for future use, roasted garlic can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. Or it can be eaten right away.

2. Cook some bacon on low heat to render the fat, which we will use in the next step. Since we will not be using the bacon from this step, you may wish to eat it now with some of the roasted garlic on a slice of baguette. If you have some red wine handy such as a Beaujolais, you might want to pour yourself a glass to go with this.

3. Prepare the mirepoux, which is equal amounts of finely minced onion, carrot, and celery. The mincing exposes more surface are to the water, so more flavor will be released into the stock. When it comes to cooking with onions, I prefer the taste of vidalias or one of the sweets. Also, I usually add just a bit more of the onion than the carrot or celery to the mirepoux. Many recipes call for sauteing the mixure in olive oil, but for this recipe I prefer using bacon fat. Saute the mirepoux in the bacon fat until the onions are soft and brown. I prefer to make the mirepoux in a frying pan and transfer it to a crock pot to finish making the stock, but you might prefer to saute it in the bottom of the stock pot and not use a crock pot to save work.

4. Once the mirepoux is prepared and in the pot:
A. chop up and add 1 large or two medium tomatoes, the fresher the better.
B. Next add in half of the garlic.
C. Put in oregano, Rosemary and thyme.
D. Put in a chicken carcass. I like to get a roast chicken from the local supermarket. They do a really good job and if you know the right time of day to get it, it can be cooked extremely well. I pull most of the meat off the chicken, white and dark alike, and throw the carcass and skin into the pot.
E. Fill the pot/crock pot with water. Cover the carcass and put in enough water to come to about 2 inches from the top.
F. Add salt and pepper to taste.
G. Set the crock pot on low, or simmer for at least 2 hours. The longer the better. Replace any water as needed to maintain the level of water.
H. Strain the stock into a container and toss out the solid material. I use a strainer that allows some of the fat to remain in the stock. You could also use a straining cloth or even a coffee filter, but personally I find that a lot of trouble for little benefit.

The stock can be made a day or so ahead of time if desired, and it can be frozen.


Part II - Prepare the Lentils.

Put green lentils and red lentils in equal proportion into a crock pot set on low, fill with stock. Cover and cook for 2 hour, checking periodically to top off with water if needed. remember, half of the resulting lentils will be pureed to thicken the soup. Keep in mind that the volume of the lentils will double if you cook them in sufficient stock. Just maintain the 2:1 ratio of stock to lentils. Keep tasting the lentils as they cook to check that they are soft.

If you can't get red or green lentils, black beluga lentils are good in the soup, and yellow or orange lentils may also be used.

The lentils can also be made a day or so ahead of time.


Part III - Make the soup.

1. Render some bacon fat.
2. Dice onion, carrots, celery.
3, Saute the vegetables until tender and place into the pot or crockpot you will use to make the soup.
4. Add remaining garlic.
5. Add tomato and stir.
6. Add stock.
7. Working in batches, puree about half of the lentils in a blender until it’s thick and creamy. (You can blend all of it if you like a creamy lentil soup, or none of it if you want it brothy. I like it somewhere in the middle.)
8. Add pureed Lentils.
9. Add the rest of the lentils.
10. Stir the mixture.
11. Crumble the bacon, remove any fat strips, and put the bacon bits into the soup.
12. While the soup is heating up in the stock pot or crockpot, slice the mushrooms into thin slices and saute lightly in the unsalted butter. I like white button mushrooms, but portabellas, shitake, or any domestic variety will do. Wild mushrooms will be too strong for this soup.
13. Add the mushrooms to the soup.
14. Add the curry powder to the soup.
15. Shred and add the chicken to the soup.
16. Finely chopp and add the parsley.
17. Taste and correct the seasoning.
18. The peas may be added at any time.

Serve with cheese sprinkled over the top. Many people like parmigiano cheese, but I prefer the taste of Romano. I prefer to use genuine pecarino romano, which is made from sheep milk. To me it has a MUCH better flavor than romano made from cow milk or parmigiano.



 
Nutritional information Very healthy. 
Credit This is my own recipe. 
Posted by EvH 
Posted on Tuesday 11 August 2015 - 18:03:28