This recipe can be made ahead—just wait to stir in spinach until after you reheat the soup.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped pancetta (about 1 ounce)
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pancetta; cook 1 minute or until pancetta begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add lentils, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf.
Place 2 cups lentil mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters), and blend until smooth. Return pureed lentil mixture to pan. Add baby spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and black pepper; stir until spinach wilts. Serve immediately.
This was a great soup with just a few minor additions and adjustments. I used bacon instead of pancetta-- cooked two whole slices first, then removed them and cooked the veggies in the fat and crumbled the bacon and added it with the liquid. I added maybe a tbsp total of minced garlic about a minute before adding the liquid, added a can of diced tomatoes and used all broth instead of broth and water. I also didn't bother pureeing any of the soup as it was quite thick enough without it. The flavors were great, and I think it was the fresh bail that really made it. Leftovers are great, too.
I love this recipe! It is super easy (although you do need to give yourself enough time to let the lentils simmer) and really healthy. I added two cans of diced tomatoes the last time I made it, which added great taste and I think I will continue to do that in the future. (It also made the soup look a lot prettier.) My husband loves it as well -- it is a great, easy, weeknight supper!
I have made this soup a few times since January and it is a definite keeper. My husband loved it. I also made it for my mother and she loved it as well. The parmesan cheese on top definitely adds a nice counter-flavor for the soup.
If at the end of the month I am over budget for groceries I play a game with myself to see what I can make based on scraps of meat in my freezer and pantry goods, hence this veggie heavy soup. I really liked this soup, but I made some significant changes. Used spicy italian sausage in place of pancetta, and frozen rather than fresh spinach. The frozen spinach was a mistake, but the sausage added a lot of flavor, I recomend it.
My husband really, really liked this soup so I'll make it again. I thought it was good. Mine turned out really thick, even though I followed the directions to a T. It was tasty, and good. I used bacon and red pepper flakes, because that's what I had on hand. I think maybe I was a little heavy handed on the spices. I will also try a different kind of pepper next time, to give it a little kick. Good soup though.
Eat Well. Lose Weight. Live Healthy. Delicious and healthy recipes customized for you!