This is our family’s standard lentil soup and one of our favorites. We prefer lentil soup without tomatoes, but you could add some if you wanted. Lentils are inexpensive, quick-cooking legumes that absorb flavors well, so we cook with them quite often. They’re also a good source of fiber, protein, iron, folate, and other important minerals and vitamins.
Our vegetarian version has some secret ingredients that give it a nice depth of flavor, without the need for pork (although we have variations with bacon or ham). We add smoked paprika and peanut butter to get a rich, smoky taste. (Oops, gave away the secret already!) It may sound strange, but it really works!
And remember, do NOT add salt in the beginning because it prevents the lentils from getting soft. That’s why you also need to use low or no-sodium broth. If you decide to add tomatoes, add them at the end for the same reason.
Another reason we love lentil soup is because it freezes so well. We use individual serving containers and freeze the leftover soup to thaw for lunch.
P.S. This is also gluten-free!
- Lentil Soup with Bacon: Cook 4 to 8 pieces of bacon (we look for nitrate-free, hormone and antibiotic-free or organic) in the soup pot. Remove the bacon when done, and place on a paper towel to drain. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and use in place of the butter. Follow the remainder of recipe as written, but eliminate the peanut butter. To serve, crumble a piece of bacon on top of each serving.
- Lentil Soup with Ham: Add about ½ cup finely cubed ham to the pot along with the carrots, etc. Follow the recipe otherwise, but eliminate the peanut butter. If you prefer to purée the soup, stir in ham at the end, after you purée it.