This is a stealth lentil soup. Odds are if you weren’t told in advance that they were in there, you wouldn’t know. If you’ve been trying to get your kids to eat lentils (and who hasn’t, I mean really?) this is a perfect hidden lentil vehicle. The soup tastes like a smoky, thick tomato soup. Serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches (I did) and a side salad and no one will know you snuck those high protein, high fiber little lentils into their diet. I set out to make a smoky soup and ended up with one with far more fire than I had originally intended. Truth be told I’m a ONE tablespoon of chipotles gal, not TWO. I like the flavor of the dish either way, but my heat tolerance is more on the milder end of the spectrum. Either way will work – do as you please.
Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup (serves 8-10)
- 2 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes (cheery tomatoes will work as well)
- 2 cups petite golden lentils
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ cups onions, finely diced
- 2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced, white parts only
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- One 4-oz can Hatch chilies
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1-2 tablespoons of canned chipotle chilies in adobo*
- 3 15-oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Optional garnishes: sour cream and chopped cilantro
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly oil a large baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the tomatoes out in a single layer on the sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they start to burst. This should take approximately 15 minutes.
In a separate pot cover the lentils with four inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Once they are tender strain the lentils and set aside.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the leeks and onions until soft, approximately 10-12 minutes. In 2-3 batches process the leeks, onions, one cup of chicken stock, the basil, lemon juice, lemon zest and Hatch chilies in a blender until very smooth. Return to the soup pot. In the same blender, and also in 2-3 batches, process the lentils and a cup of chicken broth, until they are smooth. Add the lentils to the soup pot. Place the chipotle chilies and ½ cup chicken broth in the blender. Process until smooth. Add the chilies to the soup pot. Add the remaining stock (you should have 1 ½ cups left), the tomato sauce, salt, and sugar to the soup pot. Heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Serve garnished with sour cream and chopped cilantro.
*A NOTE ON THE CHIPOTLE CHILIES: Chipotle Chilies are quite spicy. If you like your soup smoky but not spicy, just use one tablespoon. If you love HEAT use two tablespoons. If at the end of the process you still think the soup is too hot, add a cup of sour cream. This will cut the heat dramatically.