Friday, February 11, 2011

Recipe 51 - Lentil Soup w/Balsamic Roasted Winter Vegetables

Let's call this meal what it was: A Dinner Fit For Dames.  
And while we're at it, let's just call this recipe what it is:  the best darn lentil soup I've ever tasted ever.   I'm being entirely earnest.  I know I made it and that this fact makes me completely biased.  But know this:  I am always right.  Especially when Blue and I join forces to host a Downton Abbey finale party for 6 lovely ladies dames with an affinity for British accents (and men), excellent food, and of course, Dame Maggie Smith, who, incidentally, stole the entire show.  I dare you to watch the following video and not laugh. 

It can't be done.  You know you watched it five more times.  
I totally already bought the DVDs.

Anyways, onto the main event.   A few quick thoughts and tips: I was delighted by the pretty factor of the rainbow chard at the grocery store, so I used it.  It was a feast for the mouth AND the eyes!  This recipe makes more than the 6.5 servings it claims.   We had enough for 7 to have seconds and for two leftover meals!    Finally, I was cooking for vegetarians, and consequently left out the pancetta.  I bet it's really good with it, but it was also really really good without it.  Instead of browning the onions in the fat, I added a little olive oil.  

I served this soup w/Pumpkin Cornbread (except I made it with squash it was what I had) and regular cornbread.  This was a decidedly more exciting combination than when I ate the leftovers with a regular dinner roll, but it's really up to you!  For desert I made Blackberry-Lemon Pudding Cake.  It was good warm, but even better cold, and even more better with some extra blueberries (I like them frozen) mixed in.  Photos below!

Steamy hot, like Mr. Kemal Pamuk.


1 2/3  cups  cubed peeled sweet potato, (about 8 ounces)
1 2/3  cups  cubed peeled parsnip (about 8 ounces)
1 2/3  cups  cubed peeled carrot (about 8 ounces)
3  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar, divided
2  tablespoons  olive oil
1/8  teaspoon  kosher salt
1  cup  (4 ounces) chopped pancetta
1  cup  chopped shallots (about 6 large)
1  cup  chopped red onion (about 1 medium)
1  tablespoon  fresh thyme leaves
1  tablespoon  minced garlic
1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
1/4  cup  dry white wine
1 1/4  cups  dried lentils
6  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
8  cups  Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped (about 9 ounces)


Preheat oven to 375°.

1) Combine sweet potato, parsnip, carrot, 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and salt in a large bowl; toss well.

2) Arrange vegetable mixture in a single layer on a large foil-lined jelly-roll pan; bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

3) Cook pancetta in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside.

4) Add shallots and onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5) Add remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, thyme, garlic, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

6) Add pancetta, lentils, and 4 cups broth to pan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

7) Add remaining 2 cups broth and roasted vegetables to pan, and simmer 15 minutes, uncovered.

8) Add chard, and cook 2 minutes or until wilted.

9) I'll try not to look smug now that you've just admitted that it is the best darn lentil soup ever.

Chase this with a picture of some Blackberry-Lemon Pudding Cake

You're welcome for that cleansed palate (and also plate).

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