Monday, 30 September 2013

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

My son and I were home alone on Sunday and had one of those super lazy days where we stayed in pajamas all day long and didn't leave the house.  What a nice treat complete with hard rainfall, cozy covers, and movies on t.v.  Around 11:00 a.m. I got up and threw together a simple slow cooker lentil soup and enjoyed the yummy aroma emanating from the crockpot throughout the afternoon.  It's really nice to know that dinner's cooking and you don't have to worry about it later- gives you more time in your day and something to look forward to that night.  

INGREDIENTS (from America's Test Kitchen)
  • 2 medium onions , minced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves 
  • 2 TBS Extra-virgin olive oil (for serving, optional)
  • 1TBS tomato paste 
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, rinsed and minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves , or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 slices of bacon 
  • 3 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks 
  • 12 ounces portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I used sliced bella mushrooms)
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils (1 cup), rinsed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf (not pictured)
  • 8 oz. Swiss chard leaves only (I used collard greens) 

To maximize the flavor of the soup, I cooked the first few ingredients (onion, garlic, thyme, bacon, tomato sauce, porcini mushrooms) over the stove for about five minutes, but the recipe says you can have the same effect by microwaving those same ingredients for 5 minutes. 

Lentils are a great source of protein with about 3 grams of protein per tablespoon.

Stir both broths, bacon, carrots, fresh mushrooms, lentils and bay leaf into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until the soup is thickened and the lentils are tender, 9 to 11 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 5 to 7 hours.) 

When the soup has about 30 minutes left to cook, remove the bacon and bay leaf, and add in the chopped swiss chard (I used greens because my store was out of chard).  

At the end, season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle in a bit more olive oil.  I served ours with toasted French bread, but a healthier option would be to skip it or use whole wheat. 

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