Soup is a standby in my house. I love that it all comes together in one pot. I also love that the aroma of a slow-simmering soup permeates my whole house. And maybe most of all, I love that it usually tastes better the next day, when the flavors have had a chance to integrate.
Today’s soup is a whole meal in a soup pot. It’s got everything—lots of veggies and lentils for protein. The recipe came from my fave cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.
I’ve made this soup many, many times. It is always tasty and satisfying. Because I like to eat lots of veggies, I often serve it with a side of a roasted cruciferous veggie—broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco or Brussels sprouts. A side salad would also be a great accompaniment.
The recipe calls for mushroom soy sauce, but I’ve never had access to this ingredient. Instead I’ve always added a small amount of regular shoyu.
This recipe typically makes about 6-8 servings, so unless you have a large family, you’ll likely have leftovers, which is good! Make sure to cook a handful of pasta for each serving each time you heat up the leftovers. If you make a big pile of pasta and add it to the pot when you first make the soup, it will disintegrate over time.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra virgin to finish
- 2 cups onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (I like to buy the paste that comes in a glass jar. It saves for a while and is easy to use again.)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 cup diced celery or celery root
- 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed
- Aromatics: 2 bay leaves, 8 parsley branches, 6 thyme sprigs (I put these in a large, spherical tea strainer)
- 1 piece Parmesan rind (optional)
- 9 cups water or vegetable stock
- Mushroom soy sauce to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch greens—mustard, broccoli rabe, chard, or spinach
- 2 cups cooked small pasta (Shells and orichiette are good, solid shapes for this soup.)
- Thin shavings of Parmesan
- Heat the oil in a wide soup pot with the onion. Sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, parsley, celery, garlic, vegetables, and 2 teaspoons salt and cook 3 minutes more.
- Add the lentils, aromatics, Parmesan rind (if using) and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper. If it needs more depth, add mushroom soy sauce to taste, starting with 1 tablespoon. (The soup may seem bland at this point, but the flavors will come together when the soup is finished.) Remove the aromatics.
- Boil the greens in salted water until they’re tender and bright green, then chop them coarsely. (Or, add the chopped greens to the soup while the pasta is cooking.)
- Just before serving, add the greens and the pasta to the soup and heat through. Serve with extra virgin olive oil drizzled into each bowl, a generous grind of pepper, and the Parmesan.