Here in Oak Lawn, which is just 15 min southwest of Chicago, so still zone 5, our growing season is still in play. We had strange tropical weather until just about a week and a half ago. Now that it’s cooled off, it’s serious harvest time. I’ve parboiled and frozen enough veggies and sauce to fill the freezer, so looking for ways to use what’s left in the garden and at the farmer’s market, I have adapted a few soup recipes.  Here’s the first one.
This lentil soup is slightly sweet, because of the onions, red pepper, carrots, and the spice turmeric.  It’s not overly sweet, but if you’d like to balance the sweet with heat, add some smoked paprika.  Just add it sparingly, 1/4 tsp at a time to find the amount of heat that works for you.  Instead of heat, you can balance the sweet with a little pancetta, or good smoked ham. I did not use either this time around, because I was really in the mood for the smooth flavor of the light lentils, having just had a deliciously  mild lentil soup at an Indian restaurant last weekend.
Here’s what you’ll need to get to this img_0545
2Tbs of olive oil
A variety of onions – start with one red onion and add to it whatever you still have in your garden.  used the yellow onions and scallions (green onions) I had plus added a shallot and what was left of a leek I had used in another recipe.  The variety of onions adds depth of flavor and richness to this soup. You should have a total of  about 2 cups of onions.
2 c of carrots, I used the purple carrots from the garden. The purple are sweet and mild in flavor
2 red peppers
1 1/2 c of  roughly chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of lemon thyme
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
salt and black pepper to taste
4c chicken broth (I used bone broth for velvety flavor)
Start by sweating your onions in the olive oil

This takes about 5min. While your onions are cooking, chop your carrots and red peppers.

I literally just picked these. It doesn’t get any fresher, and tastier.
Add the chopped carrots and peppers to the onions and cover, continuing cooking for another 5 min.

Love those colors!  After the veggies have softened add your broth, the lentils, the garlic and the herbs and spices.  Add the lemon thyme in one bunch.
Side note – We don’t sweat the garlic with the onions because we don’t want a strong garlic flavor in the soup. There is no one dominant flavor in this soup. All the flavors blend nicely.

The lemon thyme is planted at the feet of the pepper plant in a pot just outside my back door. Very handy.

I used a package of a mixture of lentils, called fall colors. I did soak mine because they were in my cabinet for quite awhile and I wanted my soup to be ready to eat sooner rather than later. But, if your lentils are fresh, there is no need to soak them. They cook quickly.
Taste test your soup for salt and pepper.  Let simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, then add your roughly chopped tomatoes.  Any variety will work, but remember the plums are meatier and the heirloom varieties are juicer.  We don’t want this to be a tomato soup so if you are adding the heirlooms, pull the seeds and the juicy bits out before chopping.  Let cook for another 5 minutes, just until the tomatoes have cooked.

You can see the change in color in the pot after the tomatoes have cooked for 5 minutes.
and Wala – you’ve made a hearty soup using the goods from your garden!!
The hardest part of making this soup was chopping all those onions. My handy mini food processor from my hubby’s Buscia helped keep the tears to a minimum.  It’s a fairly quick  with minimal work for a soup laden with so many nutritional benefits.
Feel free to let me know how this worked out for you.

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