Friday, March 20, 2009

Lentil Soup

I had never had lentil soup until last March of 2008. Of course, I had seen them in supermarkets but I had never tried. Shame on myself that I had not noticed this delicious and healthy ingredient for a long time! In March 2008 when I first had lentil soup, I was incredibly sick. I was working in NYC and my former boss sitting next to me had coughed for a few weeks. He did not take care of himself or cared about passing his influenza to others. So eventually I got it. It was one day before my weekend getaway to Washington D.C. I had planted with my husband. When I arrived in D.C. I was extremely weak and did not have any appetite at all. My husband took me to an Italian restaurant, Ristorante La Perla of Washington in Georgetown. He insisted me to eat. So I ordered a house salad and lentil soup. That was how I met lentil soup first time. The soup immediately cheered me up and gave me energy. It was extraordinarily delicious and delicate soup I had never tasted! I remember after the lentil soup, I ordered lasagna and finished it up. The chef and owner of Ristorante La Perla of Washington, Mr. Vittorio Testa, told us that lentil soup was the favorite soup of many Roman emperors. I asked the secrets of his delicious lentil soup but did not give me any of them. But he only gave me a tip to use mineral water and fresh vegetables. I followed his advice and innovated this lentil soup recipe after a several tries. I do not use chicken or vegetable broth. Yet it is very tasty and yummy vegetarian soup. Lentils are rich in dietary fiber, iron and folic acid but very low calories. I cook this soup at least twice a month to satisfy my appetite and nutrition.
Ingredients (5-6 servings):
2 cups washed and rinsed lentils
1 chopped onion
3 diced carrot
3 stalks chopped celery
2 cup chopped tomato
4 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cup fresh basil leaves (or flat leaf parsley)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (or Cajun seasoning)
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin olive oil is always the best choice).
1 Anaheim pepper

1. Place the lentils, onion, carrot, celery, tomato, garlic, bay leaf, and Anaheim pepper in a soup pot.
2. Add water and bring to boil on medium heat.
3. Reduce the heat to low after it boils. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until all vegetables and lentil are soft. Season salt and pepper (or Cajun seasoning).
4. Turn off the heat. Add the basil leaves and the olive oil. Cover and leave it for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot!

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