I love lentil soup in the winter because it's warm, comforting, and filling. But let's face it, lentil soup can be a little plain. When I designed this lentil soup, I added a few ingredients to give it a little something more. The extra flavor comes from herbs, spices, parmesan rind, and parsley root.
Parsley root is my secret weapon. I put it in winter soups like Beef and Barley Soup and homemade broth. It is exactly what it sounds like: the root of the parsley plant, however; this variety is grown for its large roots rather than for the leaves. It's white in color and similar to a carrot in size, shape, and texture. Parsley root is related to parsnip, but has a sweeter, less sharp flavor.
I first learned about parsley root at Whole Foods market when I struck up a conversation with an elderly woman shopping in the produce section. She offered me tips for making chicken broth. Her number one tip was to use parsley root to flavor the broth by boiling it with the other vegetables. I have been using her tip ever since. I love to talk to people who enjoy cooking and food. I end up learning something new.
Recently, I started chopping up parsley root and sautéing it with other vegetables and adding it to soups that way. It's a whole new level of wonderful. When I buy a bunch, it lasts in the refrigerator for at least a month. Sometimes parsley root is hard to find in the market. I can reliably find it at Gelson's market in the winter and spring. I have bought it at some Whole Foods and occasionally at a farmers market. Sometimes I even ask a produce manager to try to get it for me. I might actually grow it myself in my backyard. In any case, it's worth seeking out, but if you can't find it, you can still make my dishes without it.
I have been making this lentil soup all winter and keep a stash in my freezer. My eight-year-old daughter is especially fond of it, and I hope you will be too.
|The Best Ever Lentil Soup (My Secret Ingredient is Parsley Root)|| |
- 1 heaping tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped small
- 4 small carrots, chopped small
- 2 large celery ribs, chopped small
- 3 small parsley roots, chopped small
- 1-½ teaspoons salt, divided (use less if broth is salted)
- Several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small piece of Parmesan rind (optional)
- 2 boxes steamed ready-to-eat lentils, by Melissa's Produce or Trader Joe's (17-½ ounces each)
- 5 to 6 cups unsalted vegetable broth (I've used homemade or Pacific brand)
- Several handfuls of finely chopped kale (or spinach or chard)
- Sauté onion, carrot, celery, and parsley root in olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir occasionally until soft.
- Add in the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, and thyme. Stir to combine, and cook for one minute. Then add the bay leaf, Parmesan rind (optional), and lentils. Add 5 to 6 cups of broth until desired thickness. Stir to combine and break up any chunks of lentils.
- Bring to a boil on high heat, then put on a lid ajar and reduce to low heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Use a stick blender in the pot to purée about ¼ of the soup. (Alternatively, use a regular blender taking caution with warm soup). Add in a little more broth if needed to adjust thickness. Stir, then taste and adjusting seasonings if needed. Serve warm. Garnish with chopped kale.