French Lentil Soup with Garlic and Thai Chili

In More Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin writes about the merits of home cooking and feeding your family. She focuses on simple recipes you can make with a young child, or a busy schedule, or both. The chapters on soup and lentils were enough to get me into the kitchen, grabbing what sounded good and chopping away. I threw this soup together and have found myself craving it since then. The Thai chili makes it peppery enough to soothe the sinuses—perfect for a chilly fall afternoon.

Spicy French Lentil Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of french lentils, rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4–6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 fresh thai chili, sliced
  • 2 vegan bouillon cubes
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • dried parsley
  • ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Add the lentils to a saucepan with one of the bouillon cubes. Cover with water. (For a thinner soup, add more water.) Bring to a boil and then simmer on low. You can prep the veggies while the lentils cook.

In a medium or large saucepan, sauté the onion, carrot, and celery with two big glugs of olive oil and a few pinches of salt (to keep it from browning). When the onions are translucent, add a cup or three of water along with the other bouillon cube, garlic, thyme, and thai chili. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low. Add salt, pepper, parsley, and coriander to taste. The broth should taste good before you add the lentils.

Once the lentils are soft and savory, pour them and their broth into the soup base. Taste it again, salt, taste, salt, serve, slurp, enjoy.

Chipotle Black Beans

Black Beans in a Jar

These beans are so good. I make them for tacos, bean bowls, chili, sides, and the like. I’ve been sitting on this recipe for almost three years and I have absolutely no excuse for that. Chef Samin Nosrat taught me how to make beans when I took her Home Ec class in San Francisco. After some experimentation, this continues to be my favorite way of making beans: slowly and smokily. Samin is also posting all sorts of great recipes for #beanmonth (yay) and you should join in the fun.

Chipotle Black Beans

Adapted from Samin Nosrat – Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 14–16oz of whole dried black beans
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 5 or 6 dried chipotle peppers
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt
  • a pinch of baking soda (optional)
  • tasty olive oil

Method

Pour the beans into a large bowl and rinse them with cold water. Cover them with fresh water and let them soak overnight, or for at least 4 hours. Drain the beans and rinse them thoroughly, and then pour them into a large pot. Cover with fresh water and carry those beauties to the stove.

Bring the beans to a boil while you prep and add the other ingredients.

Boil a small amount of water to soften the chipotle peppers, either on the stove or with a kettle. I put the peppers in a small mason jar or tea cup and steep them until they’re soft—and then pour the peppers— stems, water, and all—into the bean pot.

Peel the onion and slice it in half. Add that to the pot with the bay leaves and two or three generous grabs of salt. Peel the garlic and slice off the rooted end. Add that in. You can add other spices too, like cumin or coriander. (The pot I made today had a generous shake or three of whole cumin seeds.)

Once the beans are boiling, turn them down to a low simmer and cook them until they’re soft, skimming the scum from the top of the water line occasionally. Beans can take anywhere from an hour to four or five hours. The instructions on the packaging tend to underestimate the time, in my experience, so I make beans on Saturdays while reading and wait to eat them the following day.

Continue salting the broth until it tastes good, checking the beans periodically until they’re melty and delicious. Add in a few glugs of olive oil later in the process, and serve when ready.