Have you ever been slapped in the face by airline travel problems? Returning from our trip last weekend, we experienced one of those unexpected 'back-hands' from our airline. I guess whenever you have to make a connecting flight you make yourself more vulnerable to things going wrong. Lesson learned the hard way! A canceled flight, an unexpected overnight in another city and less than five hours of sleep before catching a 6:30 AM flight out the next day is exactly what happened to us.
Even though I had red lentils in my pantry which were purchased for another recipe, I had never cooked with them before. What a delightful surprise they turned out to be. I understand the main difference between red and brown lentils is the length of time of cook them - green lentils taking the longest amount of cooking time and holding their shape better. However, I found the flavor of the red lentils a little 'brighter', unless it was my tired brain playing tricks on me. I also appreciated the cheerful color of the soup. Not to demean brown lentil soup, I love it, but it just isn't pretty.
Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Good Food Book by Jane Brody and seen in an article in the Feb. 27, 2011 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes with juice
7 cups beef stock (I used beef but chicken stock or vegetable stock would also work well)
1-1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces dry white wine (I used half that amount)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Croutons (recipe follows)
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and saute onions, carrots, marjoram and thyme, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth and lentils. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat, cover pan and simmer about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.
Add salt, pepper, wine and parsley and simmer soup another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with toasted croutons and grated cheese.
3-4 slices of French bread, preferably frozen
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 350F
Place some olive oil in the palms of your hands and rub both sides of the bread lightly with the oil. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper on all sides of the bread. Remove crust and slice into cubes. Place the cubes on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 5-9 minutes or until lightly golden. They taste best if not over-baked.