Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach

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Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach

After the cupcake bonanza of the past few days, both Gist and I needed something a bit more healthy to eat yesterday – lentils to the rescue!  I also needed something that was either quick and easy or able to be prepared in the afternoon and served in the evening because Wednesday night is yoga night.  This recipe for Lentil Soup that I found in this past Sunday’s Boston Globe fit the bill perfectly.

On Sunday, I read over this recipe a few times, trying to decide if I would like it.  Then I noticed that it was an Adam Reid recipe and I said “Adam Reid!  They let him out of the equipment corner!” and I knew that this soup would be tasty because America’s Test Kitchen is made of awesome.

This definitely isn’t a quick recipe but the long, slow cooking gives the soup an amazing depth of flavor. The first thing you do is caramelize some onions – it takes forever (about an hour) but is so worth it!

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach
Just starting to cook – they’ll be in that pan for a loooong time…

The soup also has a touch of cinnamon in it – different but tasty.

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach
The cinnamon is added close to the beginning.

And the pan is deglazed with wine – wine makes everything better! Then the lentils and broth are added and everything simmers wonderfully for awhile.

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach
Recipe courtesy of the Boston Globe

Note: The recipe as written makes three quarts of soup – that’s a lot!  I halved the recipe (with some exceptions…)

  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • .5 tablespoon unsalted butter (I omitted the butter)
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 large carrots, scraped and finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5/8 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
  • 6 cups (about 3 ounces) loosely packed baby spinach (I used the whole bag of spinach – 6oz. – my hand slipped.  Now I’m nice and strong!)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I used white balsamic because I had it at home and the Basket wanted almost $9 for a bottle of sherry vinegar – too rich for my blood!)

In a very large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat .75 tablespoon oil and the butter until butter stops foaming. Add onions and salt, toss to coat, and cook until onions release some liquid, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot frequently (adjusting heat if needed), until onions are golden brown, about 40 minutes longer – I let them go for almost an hour. Add 1 cup broth, increase heat to high, and use wooden spoon to scrape up brown film on bottom of pot so it dissolves into liquid, about 30 seconds. Set aside off heat.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat remaining oil until shimmering. Add carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add wine, increase heat to high, scrape up brown film on bottom of pot until it dissolves into the liquid, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add lentils and remaining broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Add rice, salt, and pepper to taste, replace cover, and cook 20 minutes longer. Add onion mixture, stir, replace cover, and continue cooking until lentils and rice are tender, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves, add spinach and vinegar, and cook until spinach wilts, about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, or vinegar, if necessary, and serve hot.

I started the recipe at 4:30ish and finished right at 6:00pm (most of that time was simmering & caramelizing so I was able to do some other things while that was happening). I took the soup off the heat, got ready for yoga and went to class. By the time I got home from class at 8:15pm, the soup was still a little warm (cast iron is amazing) so I gently warmed it over low heat while I took a shower. I served the soup with my favorite No Knead Bread. Look at how beautiful that bread is…

No Knead Bread

No Knead Bread

…It paired perfectly with the soup.

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Spinach

Letting the soup sit allowed the flavors to blend nicely, but the spinach lost it’s nice bright green color.  If you serve the soup immediately, it’s not an issue. Gist and I both really enjoyed this soup – Gist describes it as “Deeeeeeeelicious!” – she clarified that that is “…with a lot of Es.”

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