Lentil Vegetable Soup; Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola

By Ira

This is a great tasting lentil soup and I make it several times in winter. It also freezes well. It is an Ina Garten recipe and I’ve done very little changes to it (such as reduce the amount of celery as I’m not a big fan of strong celery taste, but if you like it, you can increase the amount to 8 stalks). It is a weekend recipe as you need to simmer this for one hour.

The Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola is also an Ina Garten recipe and it will be a hit when you make it. If you don’t like Gorgonzola, you can substitute it for an kind of cheese, such as goat cheese, or ricotta. This is also great to serve as just an hors d’oeuvres when you have company coming.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

8 to 10 servings

  • 1 pound French green lentils or regular lentils
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

This recipe requires you to chop a lot of vegetables. I have found an efficient order to chop the vegetables without wasting any time.

First, start by chopping the onions and leeks.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, add the butter / oil, then add the onions, leeks, salt and pepper.

This needs to cook for 20 minutes stirring frequently.

While this mixture is cooking, you need to cover the lentils with boiling water in a large bowl, and put aside for 15 minutes,

then drain. You also, need to chop the carrots and celery, and mince the garlic.

When the time is up, add the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and cumin, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through.

Taste the soup to check if it needs extra salt and pepper (careful, it’ll be hot). Add the red wine or vinegar and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan (optional). I prefer mine as it is, without Parmesan.

Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola

18 bruschetta baguette servings, less if using larger piece of bread

  • Good olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips (or 1 yellow and 1 red)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon diced parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • Baguette or bread of your choice
  • 3 ounces creamy Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, at room temperature

in a medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the peppers and cook until soft, about 12 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the sugar and continue cooking for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Take off the heat and stir in the capers and basil or parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Slice the baguette crosswise into 18 thin round slices, or you can use a bigger loaf of bread.

Brush the bread rounds lightly with olive oil on 1 side. Arrange them in rows, oil side up, on a sheet pan  and toast under the broiler for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Add the pepper mixture on top of the toast.

Place small pieces of Gorgonzola on top. Return the toast to the broiler until the cheese melts slightly.

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