When you write a food blog, what pork product to use is honestly one of the most crucial decisions you'll face all day. Thick-cut bacon (fresh from the farm), a piece of ham steak AND a block of prosciutto - all sitting in my fridge - jockeying to be the first rendered down to lend its 'smoky pork essence' to an equally deserving dish...I wracked my brain...placed phone calls...referenced recipes... and (at my weakest point) engaged my three year old in a pork related rendition of 'eeny-meeny-miny-moe.' In the end...it was the pork farm thick-cut bacon that trumped all others. (No worries, the ham steak and prosciutto will have their day of glory too...just not today.)
At the risk of a blog post (some may consider) a bit out of season...it was remarkably cool here for June...and in my pantry resided all the necessary ingredients to make this hearty and (*)healthy, Easy Lentil Soup. There are a million versions of lentil soup out there - but having already faced one momentous decision ~ I had to keep it simple ~ resulting in the recipe below.
We couldn't resist serving it without big pieces of warm, crusty, bread (left-over from the previous days sandwiches). A few shakes of Tabasco (optional) and the bread dipped in...one bowl was all we needed to feel completely satisfied! The best thing was...we were left with plenty more for an equally delicious (dare I admit better) lunch the next day!
(*) for healthy soup, please omit thick-cut bacon and replace with thin-cut - Ha, Ha!
Easy Lentil Soup ~adapted from soups I've seen and made over the years....
5 slices thick cut bacon, diced up
1 1/4 cups lentils
2 medium carrots chopped
2 medium pieces of celery chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1 scant tablespoon cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups chicken stock (more if you prefer a soup not so hearty as seen here)
S&P to taste
Tabasco on top to taste (optional)
Over medium heat, render down the bacon pieces. When cooked down remove half to add back to soup at the end (leave the remaining pieces in). Saute up onion until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add carrot & celery and saute up another 3-5 minutes.
Pour in lentils and stir for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and stir. Bring to a boil. Next turn down stove to a simmer and cover for 45 mins-hour (or until lentils are tender). In batches, carefully pulse soup in a blender to desired consistency and return to the pot (add more stock at this point if soup is too thick for your liking) OR use your handheld soup blender (my favorite tool!)and pulse to desired consistency. Fold reserved bacon back in. Taste! Only S&P if necessary! Top with a few shakes of Tabasco if desired. Serve with crusty bread and get happy!