I just got this book "Culinary Artistry" and it's fascinating. Pages and pages of flavor pairings. Lamb with pomegrante. Lentils with foie gras. Lemon with parsley and mint.
I have been dreaming about lentils. Lentils are the sophisticated bean. Perfectly round and thin, like small coins. In Italy they eat on them on the new year to bring prosperity.
Culinary artistry says lentils go well with bacon and parsley. And lemon, tomatoes, bay leaves, goat cheese, foie gras, ham, mint, olive oil, onions, peppers, pork fat, prunes, radishes, sausages, scallions, sorrel, spinach, thyme and sherry vinegar.
They left out mango. And cumin, my favorite with lentils.
If you're in doubt about mango (or cumin), head to Quinn's where they will make you a believer with their cumin scented black lentils with curry roasted cauliflower and raw mango. Just perfect.
Anyway. As I drove home this morning I began putting together a soup in my head. I had some lentils sitting on my counter in an old pasta sauce jar. Leftover carrots, celery and onion in the fridge. Parsley. Bacon. Greek yogurt.
I riffed on an old Jane Brody recipe from "Good Food" (one of my first cookbooks ever, it really is pretty great), and then merged in a little Sally Schneider and some Zuni Cafe. Kind of a hodgepodge but it turned out pretty yummy. Bacon is a friend to the lentil. Especially with parsley. And a little lemon.
Lentil Soup with Bacon
1 tsp olive oil + 1 tbs butter
onion, sliced thinly
2 carrots, sliced thickly
2 stalks celery with some of the leaves, sliced thickly
1 cup lentils (washed and picked over)
1 can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 cup white wine
4-5 cups stock (chicken, veggie, beef....I used chicken but all should work)
2 slices lemon
1/2 cup minced parsley (flat leaf)
pepper or grains of paradise
2-3 slices bacon, cooked and cut finely
Heat olive oil and butter in a big stock pot. Add onion and saute a few minutes on medium high. You can add in some shallots or garlic as well if you like. I added a shallot. Didn't feel in a garlic mood. Then add carrots and celery. I purposely cut these thick because I like them that way, but you could also mince them fine so they blend into the soup. Saute a few minutes more, then add lentils, wine, stock, tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring to simmer, then cover and cook about 20 minutes. Then add two slices of lemon, a pinch of cumin and a pinch of black pepper. Taste to see if it needs salt (depends on your stock). Cover again and cook another 20 minutes or so until the lentils are soft. Add the parsley and taste again to adjust the pepper and salt. It may need a little kick of balsamic, you decide. Top with a dollop of yogurt (or grated parmigiano reggiano or grated cheddar) and the crumbled bacon.