Monday, January 13, 2014

2014: The Year of Soup

I made soup, and now I can't stop thinking about all the delicious, healthy, budget-friendly soups I can make at home!

Canned soup can be so darned expensive. And I don't like not knowing what all went into it, ingredient-wise. Plus, soup can be a very creative endeavor. There are so many things you can put in the mix!

The soup that started off this craze? Bacon lentil soup. I was cleaning out my pantry and spied the bag of green lentils I'd purchased maybe 2 years ago (maybe not that long, but it's been a long time). From the bulk section, super cheap and healthy, and...I've never tried to do anything with them because I don't know how to cook them.

Psh. So I looked it up. And it is EASY. Bring them to a boil and then let simmer until they look cooked. The process took very little attention and not too much time. I searched the web for a recipe that was just right...nothing struck my fancy. But I did see one that had bacon, and so I made the rest up myself. Glad to know my instincts were good! And exciting that I made my OWN recipe.

Bacon Lentil Soup - Crockpot Edition

1.5 cups dried lentils (an estimate; I didn't measure)
2/3 of a medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrots (however you like; I chopped baby carrots in quarters and thirds)
3 medium tomatoes (I had 3 left on the vine), diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
32 oz Chicken Stock (I don't make my own, this is the "big" size at the store)
8 oz water
1 lb bacon, chopped or crumbled into bite-sized pieces (could use more bacon)
Seasoning: Salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and cumin, to taste
-I randomly also added a small can (6 oz?) of V8, that's been languishing in the back of my fridge. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it for the recipe, but if you have some on hand, it was good. You could probably add leftover pasta sauce from the fridge, too.

1. Cook dried lentils in a medium-sized pot. Add lentils to pot, add water to within an inch or two of the pot top, and swirl around. Fish-out any of the floaties that inevitably result from dried foods. Put the whole thing on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn the burner to low, and let simmer until the lentils look plump and meaty. Drain and add the lentils to the crockpot.

2. Cook the pound of bacon. I did half crispy, half not. The crispy ones I could just crumble with my hands. The rest I had to chop with a knife. While your bacon is cooking, chop up the onion, tomatoes and carrots, and add to the lentils along with the minced garlic. Then add the chicken stock, V8 (if you have any on hand), and water. When the bacon's done, crumble/chop and then add to the pot. Give it a good stir.

3. Add your seasoning. I liked to add it all to the top of the soup and then stir. I don't ever work in measurements.

Cook in the crockpot on low. I made this at 11pm, and left it on low over night. When I woke up this morning at 7:30, the whole house smelled amazing, and I had soup for lunch. I set the crockpot to warm. I'll deal with the soup when I get home.

Tada! I think this would be lovely with some shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt. Enjoy!

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