Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spinach and Lentil Soup with Cheese and Basil

I couldn't think of what to make for dinner tonight, so I ended up looking through a file of clippings from cooking magazine. This recipe, from Cooking Light January 2012, sounded really good and I happen to have basil in the fridge along with most of the other ingredients.  It is surprisingly filling. 

The soup also fits right in with the vegetarian theme of the day, as i attended a fair called Veg fest. I must admit, after walking through the fair, and seeing stickers with animal photos with signs "don't eat me" I was in no mood to eat meat. There were booths with samples of delicious foods. My friend and I ate lunch there, and I had a plate from The Table, one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants.  Now back to this delicious soup recipe.. 

1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped pancetta (for a non vegetarian option-I omitted)
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 
1 bay leaf (I was shocked/surprisingly pleased to find i had these in my cupboard) 
1 cup dried brown or orange lentils
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (or 1 cube + 3 cups water )
2 cups water
1 (6 ounce) package of baby spinach 
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

-Heat a pot over medium heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Add pancetta (if using). cook 1 min. Add in onion and next 4 ingredients (through Bay leaf); cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add lentils, brother, water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for roughly 35-40 minutes until lentils are tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Discard bay leaf. 
- Blend soup. The easiest way to do this is by using an immersion blender.  If you don't have one of these, I strongly recommend you get one as they are possibly one of the most useful kitchen items to have- and they aren't very expensive. However, you can also use a regular blender. Blend until smooth and then return to heat, add in spinach, basil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and black pepper. Stir until spinach wilts. Serve and enjoy. 

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