French Friday’s with Dorie
Are you full yet?
I don’t mean are you feeling full after getting a good look at this gorgeous Orange Scented Lentil Soup. That would be a good kind of full indeed. Rather I am asking whether or not are you full yet from all the rich, sweet, Christmas foods and cookies pervading every nook and cranny of the netosphere right about now? I am. One can hardly open a laptop and venture into The Cloud without getting hit on by a bunch of cookie this or a wad of candy that. Chocolate peanut fudge whatzits with sugary-caramel thingamabobs (sprinkled with candied doohickeys) are everywhere you click!
T he reality-based world isn’t much escape either, is it? Each pass by the office lunchroom has yielded the discovery that another client with too much money sent us yet another expensive holiday gift basket loaded with tasty goodies. Office kitchen vultures are ready to descend as soon as they are laid out on the table. Were it not for the fact that a new goodies arrive every ten minutes you would have to be very quick indeed.
(Gang, I’m sorry for eating all the yogurt pretzels.)
But back to this steaming bowl of Orange Scented Lentil Soup. To my mind there can be is no better antidote to abundance of cloying sugary foods and other fatty rich indulgences this time of year pushes on us than a big hearty bowl of lentil soup.
Hearty soups act as a powerful tonic at the end of a day filled with such indulgences. They wipe away their sluggish effects as if by magic and balance out the empty calories consumed earlier. You may think you have no appetite and will never eat again after eating too many of those chocolate mocha truffles (sent by some attorneys you’ve never heard of) at 4PM but once you are home and a bowl of this soup sits in front of you your appetite magically returns. Ah! Nourishment!
Suddenly the lingering taste of sugar is forgotten and the volatile energy swings get level again. So take your Orange Scented Lentil Soup medicine. Its good for you.
Orange Scented Lentil Soup
I was a bit slow on the uptake to get around to making this Orange Scented Lentil Soup after it came up in our French Friday rotation about a year ago. After all, I already had my Lentil Soup recipe and I was very happy with it thankyouvermuch . Ina provided it many years ago and it was everything I thought lentil soup is supposed to be. It had all of the usual ingredients and it was loaded with sausage.
Everyone knows that lentil soup has sausage, ham, or some other part of the pig in there, right?
Apparently Dorie never got that memo. Perhaps she ran out of bacon one day and decided to toss in a small piece of orange rind instead? Or maybe it was just an accident and the orange rind missed the trash and hit the soup pot instead? However it happened it doesn’t matter as one taste and you will taste how this classic soup was freshened up to nice effect. The orange scent is subtle but distinctive and very VERY delicious.
Especially this time of year when yet another rich dish doesn’t need to be on the menu.
Dorie's recipe called for the soup to be pureed in batches until smooth. I have adapted it here slightly and modified the ending so a chunkier texture and a more colorful soup is achieved. (I"m a bit tired of photographing brown food!)
This is what you will need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 celery ribs, trimmed and thinly sliced (save the leaves from 1 stalk)
- 1 large carrot, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced
- 6 cups chicken broth or 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup french green lentil, rinsed and picked over (lentils du Puy)
- 1 strip orange peel, about 1 x 2 inches, white pith removed and cut into 3 pieces
- 6 black peppercorns
- 3 coriander seeds
- 1 whole clove (the spice, not garlic)
- fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (1-inch piece)
- fresh ground pepper
- yogurt, for topping
- chopped cooked bacon, for topping
This is how you make it:
- Warm the oil or melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over low heat.
- Toss in the onions, celery (including the leaves), and carrot; stir the vegetables until they glisten, then cover the pot and cook, stirring often, until they soften but don't color, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the broth, lentils, citrus peel, peppercorns, coriander, clove, and ginger; increase heat and bring to a boil.
- Decrease heat so that the broth just simmers, put the cover on the pot, and gently simmer until the lentils are so soft you can mash them with the back of a spoon, 60-90 minutes.
- After the soup has simmered for about 45 minutes, season it with salt and pepper.
- Transfer 1-2 cups of the soup with a cup measure to a blender and puree the mixture and return it to the pot. Repeat process until desired texture is achieved. (Alternately, pulse an immersion blender in short bursts.)
- Reheat if necessary and ladle the soup into plates or bowls; garnish each with a dollop of yogurt, and sprinkle with bacon, if desired.