Beautiful, tasty french lentils don’t get mushy. If you cook them properly they retain a little crunch, so this isn’t the porridge-y lentil soup that you might expect. The lentils, carrots and potatoes float in a delicious, herb-infused broth. And I love mushrooms, especially in combination with french lentils, but I don’t love the way they get a bit slimy in soup – I like them crispy and flavorful. So I decided to roast them with shallots until they’re very crispy, and use them as a garnish. And to top it all off, I made little lacy crisps of sharp cheddar, which melt into your soup. Eat it with a good loaf of ciabatta and you’re all set!
Here’s the Rudies with Devil’s Lead Soup
1 carrot – cut in very fine (1/4″) dice
1 potato – cut in very fine (1/4″) dice
1 cup french lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 t. tomato paste
1/2 t. marmite
1 t. tamari
2 bay leaves
1 t. rosemary
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. basil
red pepper flakes to taste
1 T. butter
salt & plenty of pepper
1. Make a batch of roasted mushrooms and shallots. Leave the garlic out. When they’re nearly done, turn off the oven but leave them in for about 10 minutes, during which time they’ll get quite crispy. (Keep an eye on them, though! Don’t want them to burn!)
2. Warm the olive oil in a large soup pan. Add the shallot, let it cook a few minutes, add the garlic, carrot and potato. Let them all cook for a few minutes till they start to brown and stick to the pan a bit. Add the herbs, tomato paste, marmite and tamari, and stir until everything is coated.
3. Add the lentils and mix well. Cook for a few minutes and then add 3 – 3 1/2 cups water, till everything is covered and there’s broth left over. You can make it as thin or thick as you like. Add 1 t. salt.
4. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender but still have a bit of bite – 20 minutes to half an hour. Add butter, balsamic, and plenty of ground pepper. Add salt to taste.
5. Serve topped with a heaping spoonful of roasted mushrooms and one or two dainty parmesan crisps!
SHARP CHEDDAR CRISPS
Butter a piece of tin foil on a baking tray
Very finely grate about 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar onto it, spreading it out so it’s about 1/3 inch thick.
Grind some black pepper all over the cheese.
Toast in your toaster oven (or put under the broiler in your real oven) for about 5 minutes, until it just starts to brown. Don’t burn it! Burnt cheese does not smell good!
Set the foil on a cool counter. You’ll hear the cheese get crispy! It crackles.
When it’s cool, turn the foil over and fold it in half towards you. You should make a crack in your crackly cheese from which you can break off little chips. If it all gets crumbled, don’t worry! It will still taste good in your soup.
Parmesan isn’t vegetarian, so presumably you use a Parmesan substitute?