October 26, 2011
One day my friend Cris brought over some lentils, chicken broth, and mirepoix vegetables (carrots, celery, leeks). In order not to disappoint his intentions (and to make something of things), I made a pot of lentil soup.
From my time in soup station, I knew that I needed a ham hock. So I went to Trader Joe's, which was the wrong place since all their meats are neatly pre-fabricated, with nothing as primal as a hock of ham to be found. They did, however, have a package called "bacon bits & ends", which I thought would be great as a flavor substitute. C'mon, it's bacon.
That went in the pot first to be browned and to release some oil. Originally I was going to use only half a pound (half the package), but then I thought why not and used up the whole package. I mean, there was going to be a pound of lentils, so the two pounds balanced each other out? :)
Once the oil was released from the bacon, I put in the diced mirepoix to sweat/soften. The standard mirepoix has onions instead of leeks, so this was a nice change of pace (carrots can also be substituted for parsnips, and the combination of parsnips + celery + leeks is white mirepoix, which is often used for light-colored stocks like fish stock).
My roommate Molly was making dinner at the same time and had some leftover tomato sauce, so I stole some to mix in. (Adding tomato product to brown is a process called pincé, which is commonly done for stock/sauce-making in order to add color and flavor.)
Then I added chicken broth, the whole container was 4 cups of liquid so I added another 4 cups of water since the instructions on the lentils called for 8 cups of liquid.
Brought the whole thing to a boil, then simmered for about 45 minutes. And there you have it, lentil soup for the soul.