We’ve been looking forward to fresh florals for Spring, and dreaming of warm-weather getaways. But in the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep cozy! For a perfect night in, we asked Diane’s chef, Jane Coxwell, for a bit of advice and she shared one of Diane’s go-to winter dinners: the perfect lentil soup. Oh, and if you’re resolving to be healthier and happier this year, check out Jane’s book for year-round inspiration!
There are lots of variations of lentil soup out there. This is DVF’s favorite. It’s incredibly healthy, hearty and tasty. The mushrooms add a good depth of flavor, and the addition of lemon at the end finishes it off well.
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced or microplaned
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery stalks, finely chopped
1 cup button mushroom, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon cumin
1 heaped teaspoon coriander
1 tomato, chopped
3/4 cup lentils, washed and picked
Freshly ground pepper
In a pot over a low to medium heat, add a good lug of olive oil along with the onion, garlic, chili, carrot, celery and mushroom, and sweat down for about 5 minutes.
Add the spices and stir around for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat up slightly, so that they toast and release all of their flavor. Then add the tomato and cook for a further couple of minutes.
Add the lentils along with 4 cups of water or vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer, add a pinch of salt, and let it cook for about 40 minutes. You’ll probably have to top it up with water once or twice. That’s okay, but be careful not to put too much liquid—just enough so that everything is floating nicely and nothing will catch on the bottom. You can always add liquid at the end, but you can’t really take away.
After 40 minutes the lentils should be really tender. Pour half of the mixture into a blender and pulse until it’s nearly smooth, but not too smooth. This step is really up to you and how you prefer the texture to be. The way I like it is to blend half until almost smooth and add it back into the pot with the non-pureed lentils. This gives it a lovely full texture. You may want to blend all of it until very smooth or not blend any at all. Whatever makes you happy.
To finish the soup off, add the juice of 1 lemon, some salt, and a good twist of black pepper. Also a squeeze of agave nectar to balance it out. Check the seasoning and add more lemon, agave, and salt as necessary. Snip over a small handful of fresh cilantro to finish off, or serve as is.