This soup is the hubs favorite soup and he regularly requests it during cold weather. Now, for the hubs to request a soup is a big deal. He is not fond of soup and always asks, "We are having soup and...?"
It has very few veggies in it, though I am sure the addition of a leafy green couldn't hurt. But is is super tasty, super easy, and a great pantry recipe. It can also be easily vegetarian and/or vegan. I am posting the original recipe for it out of convenience from Food network (mario batali), but I generally halve the recipe as it is way too much for only 2 people and we end up eating the soup for days to come if I forget. I also use vegetable broth in place of chicken, and that is about all the changes I make. It tastes great topped with some parmesan, or not, if you are trying to cut back on cholesterol or go vegan a little bit more as we are. The chili oil gives such a great flavor that the cheese is not really even necessary. disclaimer: if you are serving children or do not enjoy spicy food, cut back by at least 1/2 the amount of chili pepper flakes used in the oil.
Lentil Soup with Chili Oil (printable recipe)
3 cups castelluccio lentils (or french) 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 medium red onion, chopped into 1/8-inch dice 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced plus 2 whole cloves 4 cups vegetable broth, hot Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 pound Tuscan or Umbrian country bread 1 cup pasta shells Chili Oil, recipe follows
Wash and drain the lentils, carefully picking through them to take out any pebbles. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the 6 tablespoons oil until just smoking. Add the onions and sliced garlic. Cook until softened but not brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the lentils and the hot chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower then heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, keeping the level of the liquid just over the lentils by periodically adding more water. Add the pasta shells during the last 6 minutes of cooking. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. In the meantime, preheat the grill or broiler. When the soup is ready to serve, grill or toast, slices of the bread until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Rub each slice with a cut garlic clove.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Place a slice of garlic bread on top of each soup serving. Drizzle the bread and the soup with the chili oil and serve immediately.
Chili Oil: 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin 2 tablespoons chili flakes 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
In a small hot saute pan, add extra-virgin olive oil and garlic. Saute until golden and add chili flakes and salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let infuse.