Happy May Day! It finally seems like Spring has sprung. We spent the weekend in the Catskills, with sunshine, green grass and trees, in a house built into a waterfall (no joke!). It wasn’t quite warm enough to sit on the deck overlooking the old trout pond and drink a beer while the sun set (sigh…) but we did manage a hike in the surrounding forest. And to warm up our faces after the brisk walk; a bowl of lentil and bulgur soup, loaded with spring carrots, chard and garlic, and brightened up with a punch of lemon. Topped with some pine nuts and a dusting of cheese, this is a dish that sings out springtime. Not that bitter radish in a salad to lighten up after a cold winter kind of spring, but the warm up after a rainy afternoon (or hike through the woods).
The deck we walked out onto from the door in the kitchen. Not warm enough to dine outside on the water, but good enough to sit and sing a few tunes.
Darren loved the soup. He said it tastes like a garden. My favorite part is the garlic. You leave a bunch of cloves whole and let them cook with the lentils and bulgur. After about 20 minutes the garlic is so soft that you can smoosh it against the side of the pot, and it just melts into the soup. And one more note: try to find skinny, small carrots to ensure they will be tender in the 20 minutes it takes for the lentils to cook. And it won’t hurt to slice them very thin.
We enjoyed cooking in this homey, but still waaaay bigger than ours, kitchen.
Spring Lentil Soup
1 T. butter or olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4-6 thin, spring carrots, bias cut (diagonal)
1 T. herbs de provence
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 green lentils
1/2 medium bulgur
2 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 small bunch of swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
handful of basil, torn into pieces
some freshly grated parmesan (preferably parmigiano reggiano)
Melt butter in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, 7-8 minutes. Stir in the carrots and herbs de provence and cook for another few minutes. While it’s cooking, crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife and peel, but leave them whole. Throw the garlic into the pot, along with the lentils and bulgur, and stir until all is coated with the butter and herbs. Pour in the stock and 3 cups of water, bring to a boil. Turn to low, cover and simmer until lentils are about tender, 20 minutes.
While the soup cooks, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until brown and fragrant. Keep a close eye on them, they go from raw to burned in no time.
After 20 minutes, add the chard to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the zest and juice.
Serve topped with the pine nuts, basil and cheese.