Do you like Italian Soup? As the weather gets cooler, I keep thinking more and more about piping hot soup!
Personally, I love soup all year round, but I tend to make more soup in the fall and winter. This recipe is different but delightful, especially if you like things a little tangy. If you eat this soup with a hearty salad or over some aromatic basmati brown rice , you can call it dinner.
I must warn you, the soup is filling.
Now, here is the secret ingredient that I use: Balsamic vinegar! You have used balsamic vinegar in salad dressings, marinades,dips, and you may have even tried it on some veggies or sweet potatoes. Balsamic vinegar is very versatile and imparts an interesting flavor in all kinds of dishes.
Originally, I tried a basic recipe for tomato lentil soup that a friend had given me. It sounded good, but each time I made it, it was a little bland. I tried to fix it up, but it was still on the bland side.
I saw a bottle of balsamic vinegar staring at me from the pantry shelf. I thought , "why not?"
Who would have known that lentils and balsamic vinegar are a perfect match.
Wow! The flavor of the soup was transformed.
I am fussy about my balsamic vinegar. Some brands taste better than others. I usually buy a bottle that says it is made in Modena, Italy.
"Commercial balsamic vinegar can be a mix of a variety of ingredients, including wine vinegar, water, sugar, conservatives, caramel, and flavoring. There are no standards to ensure that you are getting a quality product. These may be labeled as "Balsamic Vinegar",but they are only pale imitators--not the real thing.
True traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, is only produced in Modena, Italy and is strictly regulated and controlled by their government. Only an exclusive group of about one hundred families are authorized to make traditional balsamic vinegar. The grapes used to make the balsamic vinegar are grown and harvested in Modena, Italy. They are then crushed, and the juice is cooked over open flame for hours to create a syrupy "must." The must then ages for a minimum of 12 years in a sequence of wooden casks that infuse it with its unique flavor. After this lengthy process, the balsamic vinegar must then pass a panel of five expert tasters. If it is deemed perfect, then it is allowed to be called Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena" ( quoted from : http://www.houseofbalsamic.com/vinegar)
Is balsamic vinegar healthy? You bet! Read on..quoted from:
" Each grape that will ultimately transform into balsamic vinegar is a tiny gem packed with powerful restorative qualities. Tucked within each grape seed are pycnogenols, potent antioxidants that can fight stress, arthritis, allergies and cardiovascular disease. The skin of the grape seed contains tannin, another antioxidant that Harvard University researchers have shown controls weight and slows down the aging process.
Far from being just beautiful and delectable, red grapes contain a bioflavonoid called quercetin that fortifies the immune system, allowing it to fight inflammation, infection and even cancer. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin report that flavonoids from grapes also combat heart disease by preventing buildup in the arteries.
In addition to these substances is another true prize of the grape—resveratrol. This therapeutic powerhouse is a restorative wonder and may be a magic bullet in the battle against aging. Studies from the University of Illinois show that it inhibits tumor growth and France’s Liver Research Study Group has found that resveratrol may prevent liver cancer. Other scientists report that it may even prevent breast cancer by halting the development of a linked enzyme."quoted from: http://www.houseofbalsamic.com/vinegar/healing-properties
OK HERE IS MY RECIPE : Tangy Tomato Lentil Soup Italian Style
3/4 of a 16 oz bag brown lentils, rinsed and soaked for about 2-3 hours
1 cup chopped tomatoes ( fresh or canned)
Olive oil spray and 1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, diced or pressed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sliced carrots
3 stalks of celery, sliced
10 cups of water. ( may need to add more as it cooks)
2- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste and splash of balsamic vinegar for serving
Soak the lentils for about 2 hours in water and then drain
Spray the bottom of a tall soup soup pan with olive oil spray and add the olive oil. Add onions and allow to saute for about 2 minutes.
When onions are very hot, add chopped tomatoes, garlic, and the fresh lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.
Stir well and saute for about 2 minutes. Then add lentils and allow to saute in mixture for about 2 full minutes while you stir, coat and toast lentils
Add water, celery, carrots and bring to a boil. Simmer with a lid for about 20 minutes, then remove lid and continue to cook until lentils and vegetables are very soft. ( add 1/2 cup of water if needed) Add salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end. ( do not add salt while the lentils are cooking or they will be hard)
Step by Step with Pictures.
|Soak lentils for 2-3 hours|
|Follow directions and cook until lentils are soft|
|Add sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and another splash of balsamic vinegar|
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