Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hearty Red Lentil Soup for the Winter and Travel Weary

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.

So what do you make for dinner when you're exhausted? I could have opted for fast food and called it a day but, after browsing the food section in our Sunday paper, I found a simple soup recipe that called for ingredients I actually had on hand, which were lentils (I only had red lentils on hand), a container of store-bought stock, canned tomatoes and a few onions and carrots in the crisper.

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.

I also had some good cheddar cheese in the frig and French bread in the freezer so I made some croutons to add a little more heartiness to the soup. The soup was delicious and certainly helped soothe our weary souls!

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
Printable Recipe

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.


  1. I think this sounds like the perfect way to end a less than perfect return flight. Wish I'd had the recipe when we sat on a United flight for seven hours--yes, seven hours--and, instead of finally heading to Hawaii, we headed back home!! This was about five years ago. Horrible! No help from United as far as another flight after that one was finally cancelled AND they didn't want to refund our money. It was two days before we could get another flight. Did I mention this was in May? Not February! No snow! We did go a few months later.


  2. The only thing I can say about your airport experience is, it makes home even that much more welcoming! The soup sounds good and I'm lovin' those cute bowls:@)

  3. You gotta love those travel experiences. I traveled with my job for a number of years and was lucky to only have to spend the night in the airport once!

    Looking on the bright side, guess it's good this was coming home from vacation instead of going to vacation?

    You're much better than I am, I would have done a frozen pizza or take out after traveling. In fact, I often do that even when I am not delayed :)

    This soup looks delicious!

  4. Comforting and tasty, perfect for these "in between" winter and Spring days.

  5. Nice, nice soup! Isn't travel getting more difficult? I don't think I feel this way because of my age, either. You really have to bend with the flow and not get frustrated.

  6. Wow. You're my new hero. After a day and more like that, I would've definitely opted for take-out or something. I'm sure that your beloved appreciated this so much more. What a sweetie you are!

  7. lovely soup and man that has happened to us before a few times annoying or they cancel when flights are not full to add to next flight aw well when you look back the trip will have been worth it


  8. Your soup sounds great.....sorry you had so much trouble with the airlines. Hopefully this week will be better:)

  9. There's no place like home...especially with a bowl of yummy soup!

  10. We have had a few experiences similar to yours..

    Makes you love home..but then again..we have had lovely experiences..makes you want to travel:)

    The soup looks fabulous..I am glad you are home.

  11. There is nothing like lentil soup when it's cold -- your red lentil looks yummy!

  12. I can remember back when we looked forward to flying and even dressed up for the flight. Now its just an endurance challenge. I can imagine how happy you must have been to get back home.

    Yummy soup, Susan. I don't think I've ever used red lentils. They are much more appetizing than the green.

  13. We've had travel issues, and it's even worse when it happens when you have small kids with you! Your soup looks so hearty and so comforting, I like the red lentil's, too! And such a pretty color!

  14. Nothing like travel plans gone awry to put you in a bad mood - ugh! We have definitely had our share. I have to say, this soup looks delicious and comforting! I love, love, love lentil soup and I look forward to trying yours. I also never know red lentils cooked faster - thanks for sharing!

  15. Susan, you are surely superwoman to make a soup like this after doing all that traveling... I would have ordered pizza! Great looking soup. Red lentils are so much prettier that the green or brown variety. I think the cheddar and croutons would make it perfect.

  16. I must say, for someone who had just had such a long day you are a much better person than me. I can certainly see the benefits of not being so lazy. I always have red lentils in the cupboard - so next time I'm feeling uncookable, I'll try this for sure.

  17. I am not going to think about flying, my least favorite thing to do in the whole world, especially as I am getting ready to fly to california and then to florida ...not too pleasant; this soup on the other hand sounds delicious, comforting and homey! nothing beats coming home!

  18. You gave me the shivers reading your post. We flew last week and it's always the same story; running and then waiting. Your trip sounded like the trip from H...
    I admire you for coming home and making soup, but if you are like me; cooking is a good relaxing way of chasing the bad moments away.

  19. there's nothing like soup to put it's arms around you and make you feel like you are home ... so comforting! i love lentil soup. yummy!

  20. Susan,

    I can relate to your trip. getting to be such a hassle and because I have a new hip, I have to be patted down - very invasive.

    However, your soup sounds wonderful and I will be making it this week. Thanks for sharing it.

    Have a better week.


  21. Sorry your trip ended like that. I would have definitely gone for takeout. Your soup does look yummy.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  22. Sorry about the pain-in-the-tuchis return trip. I just hope you slapped them back. Kidding.

    What I really can't believe is you were inclined to cook upon your arrival.
    In any event, lentil soup is one of my favorites, because it's easy, fast, delicious and nutritious. And your soup meets all of the above.

    Welcome home Susan!

  23. Wow, this sounds so good. It's been chilly here in TO and this would warm me right up!!

  24. Mike would love it. Still soup weather here too!
    Love those bowls, they are adorable! :)

    I got some gorgeous flatware today! I love it. The Tablescaper is jealous!! :) Thank you so much! It will be featured in a scape soon!

  25. My husband and I just came home from Sydney, Australia and I had my fingers crossed that all our connections would take place with ease. We had to fly a combination of 20 hours each way! Thankfully all went well. I had Chinese take out the first day home ..too tired from jet lag and doing laundry to cook!

    I love red lentils. They make a wonderful soup!

  26. Bonnie, interesting! It was the same airline!

    Thank you for all of the understanding comments. I think I was so 'wired' after getting home I needed something to do in the kitchen.

  27. Susan, I'm sure it felt good to be back in the kitchen after those delays! The soup sounds wonderful!

  28. This looks wonderful...something I wouldn't think I would make but after your description I know I would now!!

  29. Sounds delicious, and your photos are gorgeous. I will now be able to put the bag of lentils I have in the cupboard to use!

  30. Your soup looks so delicious! New to your blog! Found you after leaving a comment at ValsoCal! : )

  31. What a delicious and filling soup. Love the end touches you added with the cheese and bread! Gorgeous!

  32. Oh Susan! I am so sorry to hear about your flight disaster, this type of stuff drives me bananas!!! I'm glad that you had a good warm soup to rejuvenate you after that nightmare. I like that it can be made with a few good simple staple ingredients.

  33. Oh Susan that sounds terrible! At least you had this wonderful meal to soothe you after all your troubles. Such delicious healthy comfort food!

  34. Sorry to hear that you had such an unpleasant experience with airline.
    The soup looks warm and soothing.

  35. Susan, sorry about the bad experience...but your red lentil soup looks delicious...very comforting :-)

  36. This sounds great, the perfect way to warm up a cold winter :)

  37. Oh wow, sorry about your airport troubles...This is a lovely soup recipe, I really enjoy all lentils but have a fondness for the red :)

  38. Airplane travel actually USED to be fun. I was looking at an old 50's movie the other night and saw them boarding a plane and broke up laughing at the simplicity. Oh well.
    I give you great credit, Susan, when you were so wiped out, for making a fabulous soup from scratch! I would have opened a can! :)

  39. I made this soup last night and it was delicious. Fighting a cold, I needed something warm and nutritious. Thanks for posting...I fly next week and am dreading it!

  40. sorry about the travel pains, wow how exhausting..a perfect ending to a hectic day..yummy!


  41. Yummy lentil soup and beautiful little bowls! xx

  42. I could swim in that bowl it is so gorgeous, and I, too, have all ingredients on hand. A friend of mine purees the red lentils to a flour before making soup with them and they are a great nutritious thickener. That is why I bought mine and I will try that trick with this soup!

  43. So sorry about your airline difficulties. This soup was a great way to unwind though- it looks delicious!


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