The Soup Blog
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Cinderella Story: Lentil Soup

Magic Beans (Lentils)

Be glad that this week’s post isn’t called “Horrible Failure Soup,” because that’s where it was headed until this morning.  Lentil soup was scheduled, if I can be said to actually have a schedule for these things, for next week or even later.

This week was slated for Brussels sprouts.

After all, aren’t I the Brussels sprouts guy in the family? (See Asparagus Soup post.)  None of my siblings would eat them.  Only I rose to the challenge.  But this isn’t a story about my being a food “thrill seeker,” nor is it about how awful my Brussels sprouts soup  turned out.

Aside:  It was terrible. No amount of sour cream, onions, potatoes or anything else would save it. Yet I clung to hope right up until my wife came in the kitchen and asked “What smells like…”  Then it was all over.  Happily, we found out the smell was some basil in a jar by the sink, but by then I’d already given up.

As I said, though, this post isn’t about failure, it’s about success.  It’s about a fairy tale ending that only came when I reached into the pantry, tore open a bag of lentils and whipped up a soup in under twenty minutes (more or less).

A Lentil Soup.

Curiously enough, lentils were featured in the original Cinderella story.  No, not the Disni-fied, fat, talking mice and bluebirds version, the original Grimm Aschenputtel.  In that story, Cinderella (so named because she had to sleep by the kitchen fireplace and tended to get a little sooty) was required to sort through a huge pile of lentils to remove all the stones (very small ones).  Only then would she be allowed to go to that uppity royal ball of hers.

So what did she do?  She cheated.

Granted, it wasn’t half as desperate as the stepsister who cut off a piece of her foot so the glass slipper would fit.  But still.  Happily the talking dove ratted her out—“Coo-coo-roo-coo, coo-coo-roo-coo, blood is in the shoe”—or she might have gotten away with it.

But I digress.

This lentil soup requires no fairy godmother or magic of any kind. Not much work either.  It’s just a little bacon (not to worry, it wasn’t a talking pig), an onion, some stock, some simmering and before you can say bibbidi bobbidi boo, you’re done.

As I stare out my window at all the Halloween decorations, I see that this dressed up recipe was wonderfully fortuitous.  I know you were probably expecting pumpkin soup.  That’s what the food magazines would do.

As for me, I’ll stick to the fairy tales.  It’s quite a fertile source for soups.  There’s Jack and the Bean Soup, Little Mermaid Chowder, Beauty and the Beef Consommé, Princess and the Frog’s Legs Étouffée… (I could do this all night.)

Once upon a time (this time actually) it turned out to be Lentil Soup.

Lentil Soup
(serves 8-10)
4 oz. bacon
1 small onion, diced
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb lentils
8 cups vegetable stock (less, if you want it thicker)
Salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Arrange bacon strips in a pot and sauté over medium heat until a little of the fat is rendered (1-2 minutes).
  2. Add the onion and olive oil and cook until the onion is soft (5-7 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic, simmer for 3-5 minutes and add the lentils, stock and seasoning.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove the bacon strips, chop finely and return to the soup.
  6. And they lived happily ever after.

Image Credit: Wand and Lentils. Photo by author.

Did you know that the name lentil arose because they look like little lenses?  Actually, I don’t know if that’s true.  But if it isn’t, it ought to be.  If that makes you mad, tell me about it in a comment.    I’ll be reading and responding.

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