This Green Lentil soup is cozy, earthy and brimming with smokiness from the Pancetta and cumin. If you cook it just right, then a spoonful is a bit toothsome, and the lentils are not quite falling apart. Oh, and there’s just a hint of heat from the fire roasted tomatoes and plenty of good for you ingredients like spinach and carrots. A bowl of this is like a warm but slightly spicy hug. All good things in other words.
It’s FREEZING in So Cal the last few days and has been pouring down in buckets. Mind you, freezing for this California Girl is 45ish (F). It means pulling out a scarf, zipping up the boots and throwing together a QUICK soup in the crockpot before I run off to work. Those of you who are ACTUALLY freezing across the country, I do apologize; I realize how insensitive and clueless I seem.
But, I was born and raised here, and this IS COLD for me. Everything is subjective. Even this soup. However, if you trust my office mates, this is delish. Because it got devoured today at lunch by many a coworker. Yes, I could have stock piled this soup for myself, but that’s not my style. I love sharing my food, and I get the most enjoyment from it when it makes other people happy. I’ll have to admit I’m a total compliment whore though. I do live for the accolades, but at the end of the day, I really just like to share in the cooking love.
I threw this soup together in about fifteen minutes before I jetted off to work this morning so I could have it waiting for me later in the day, making my house smell like heaven. If there is a heaven, I do hope that it sometimes smells like soup cooking and other times perhaps warm chocolate chip cookies baking. I just had an epiphany…maybe those candle companies should make a soup candle. Although, walking in the door and smelling soup but not getting to eat it would be more than a little deflating. Ok, no soup candles. Another almost brilliant idea makes it to my mental trash can. A little secret— that trash can is always overflowing.
Well, here is my very, very simple recipe that will not only make your kitchen happy (very little work happening in there) but it will make you and anyone you feed happy. Although, I am warning you that it will be craveable so please make sure to have lentils in your cupboard at all times. Enjoy!
Green Lentil Soup
Recipe springboard was from Tabs and Tidbits but was slightly Geni-fied
Makes about 8 large bowls
Prep time: Approximately 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 Hours on High or 7-8 Hours on Low in the slow cooker.
4 oz pancetta, chopped (Trader Joe’s has one already chopped, simply eliminate for vegetarian soup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and diced
4 carrots (small -med), peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery (small-med), diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Bay leaf (Turkish is my preference)
2 cups of green lentils, rinsed and sorted
6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (use Vegetable Stock for vegetarian version)
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted chopped tomatoes (no need to drain, just dump the whole thing in)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (more may be needed at the end when you taste)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon of lemon juice or red wine vinegar (whatever you have on hand for a little acidity)
Optional: If you like a little more heat, you may want to add 1 teaspoon of Sriracha, OR 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, OR 1 teaspoon of paprika (a little more more smokiness).
Add the following to taste: More salt, pepper, cumin or thyme.
Directions: In a medium-sized saute pan, over medium-high heat, put in olive oil and saute the Pancetta with the onions stirring now and then until the onions look a bit translucent. Turn down heat to medium-low and add chopped garlic and stir. Add carrots and celery and cook for another two-three minutes. Add bay leaf, stir and cook another minute or two. Put sauteed veggies and Pancetta mixture into slow cooker.
Add lentils to slow cooker and pour in broth. Add the tomatoes through thyme. Stir everything together. Do not add the spinach and lemon until after it is done cooking in the slow cooker. Turn on high and cook approximately four hours. Or turn on Low and cook about seven hours.
After it is done cooking, add the bag of spinach to the crockpot and stir. Close the lid for a couple of minutes so the spinach wilts. Add the lemon juice, stir and taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Or, if it needs more earthiness or smokiness, add more thyme (earthiness) or cumin (smokiness). Taste and adjust accordingly. Serve with crusty french bread for full effect. 🙂
If you want to make this SUPER EASY, buy chopped garlic and a mirepioux (onions, carrots and celery) mix. You absolutely CAN skip the sauteeing part, BUT by sauteeing the pancetta with the veggies, you add a caramelization and smokiness that won’t happen fully in the crockpot.
Please let me know if you try this!