French Lentil Soup

Being home provides several comforts and pleasures for me, the most obvious of which is being with my family.  It is only with my mom, dad, and beautiful sister that I feel a sense of completeness which reminds me that life is short and meant to be enjoyed; this is something I do best with them.

However, there is another pleasure I feel while being home, and that is the thrill of having the best cooking equipment at my disposal.  Two convection ovens, four gas burners (better than the two hot plates I'm working with in France), granite countertops, and cookbooks.  Oh, what marvelous cookbooks!  Upon my arrival home I may have hugged The New Best Recipe, a splendid cookbook I recevied at the end of my internship at ATK. In short, I am living in the lap of luxury here; with a kitchen about 5 times the size of my 2 meter-squared box in Paris, I will be sad to part ways with it.

Today's lunch consisted of french lentil soup, the directions for which I derived from the cookbook cited above.  I have been in the market for a good lentil soup recipe, and I have to admit that initially I was wary of this one.  About halfway through cooking it looked pretty watery and I wasn't sure how it would end up tasting like the lentil soup I had hoped for - rich, thick, with a creamy component that warms your belly and leaves you satisfied.  However, this soup exceeded my expectations; I never knew that lentil soup could have so much flavor.  Cooking the vegetables in bacon, adding white wine and a touch of balsamic vinegar create a complex soup which is filling but light at the same time.

French Lentil Soup - makes 2 servings
I made 2 servings of this soup because leftovers can be stored for several days in the fridge; I highly recommend making more than you can eat in one sitting and saving the rest for later.

1 slice of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
7 oz.-can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/2-cup french green lentils, or lentilles de puy
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/4-cup chicken broth
1 1/4-cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1.  Fry the bacon in a stockpot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crispy, about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes
3.  Pour in the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme; cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
4. Stir in the lentils, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
5.  Increase the heat to high, uncover, add the wine, and bring to a simmer.  Add the chicken broth and water; bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for about 35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
6.  Working in 2 or 3 batches, puree the soup in a blender.  Return to the pot, add the balsamic vinegar, and cook over low heat until hot.
7.  Pour the soup in two bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley, and enjoy while warm.

Merci, bonne dégustation!


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