~more recently updated recipes~
2007 Original: Does this soup look worth trading, say, for apple pie? That was the deal, a piece of American Apple Pie for the recipe for this oven-cooked lentil soup, all in fun, of course, since the recipe holder (hi, Rass!) was getting pie anyway and the pie-maker (me) often swaps recipes with Rass and his wife, dear family friends for more than 50 years.
And Rass' lentil soup is excellent! It's meaty and full of rich flavors. And it cooks by itself in the oven, no worries, for a perfect five hours. What comes out is perfectly cooked, hot and hearty, steamy and spicy, utterly delicious. It's perfect for cold winter days, a definite keeper.
2015 Update: Wow. So yeah, this is great lentil soup. I made several substitutes (roast pork for ham, the pork braising liquid for stock, chard stems for celery, a poblano chile for green pepper, skipped the wine, added some cumin by accident but then loved it, etc.) so think this recipe is flexible to your own changes. Back in 2007, slow cooking in the oven was a new concept to me, now it's a technique I use all the time! I just have better luck with the oven than with slow cookers.
"... it was delicious!" ~ Libby
"Delicious!" ~ kaeotica
"I gave it a B- [the first night] but today it's definitely an A!" ~ Anonymous
"amazingly yummy and easy" ~ Anonymous
OVEN-COOKED LENTIL SOUP
Time to table: 5 1/2 hours
Makes 10 cups
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut in small cubes
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 green pepper or poblano pepper, diced
2 carrots, sliced thin in 'coins'
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound smoked ham, cubed
14 ounces canned diced tomato
14 ounces canned tomato sauce
4 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
1 cup lentils
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry
Salt & pepper to taste
Turn oven to 250F/120C.
In a large oven-safe pot such as a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp, then set aside. Drain off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat, add the onion, celery, green pepper, carrots and garlic as they're prepped, stirring often to distribute the fat. Then, as Rass says, "Chuck the rest into the kettle, stir it up and put into the oven (covered) for five hours." Don't forget the bacon.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
SAUTÉING THE ONIONS ETC Hmmm. As I re-read Rass' instructions carefully now, I realize that he doesn't cook the onion-celery-etc with the bacon but instead cooks the bacon on its own, then "chucks the rest in". Rass makes a mean lentil soup, you won't go wrong with his method! That said, I've also learned how important it is to develop flavors by cooking deeply at this stage. So I just keeping cooking the vegetables as I chop them, there's no time lost. Also, I should note that Rass cooks his bacon in olive oil but to my taste, the extra fat just isn't necessary.
HAM SUBSTITUTE The last batch, I "pulled" a pound of leftover pork roast, twas fabulous. I also used leftover juices from cooking the pork instead of wine and beef stock.
LENTILS Use any kind of lentils, brown, green, black, any kind except red lentils – red lentils are too soft, they'd cook to mush.
MEASURING THE WINE Don't get out a measuring cup, just fill one of the empty tomato cans halfway, splosh it around to grab the last bits of tomato. Save a dish!
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MORE FAVORITE LENTIL RECIPES~ Lentil, Pepper & Spinach Supper ~
~ Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes ~
~ Julia Child's Lentil Salad ~
~ more recipes with beans & lentils ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables ~
~ Homemade Lentil Soup ~
~ Two-Way Lentil Skillet ~
~ more lentil recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column