Monday, October 25, 2010

Tomato Lentil Soup- Italian Style



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
Ingredients:
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


Directions:
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.




Assemble Ingredients

Prepare Ingredients

 
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
       
                                         Pumpkin Farm in Bucks County

four large pumpkins

                                                       CRAZY PUMPKINS

8 comments:

  1. What a fabulous soup. I am holding onto every soup recipe and have my project, set ahead of me, for the winter. This is another warming soup with tomato base, which we love.

    Thanks for linking instant warmth to My Meatless Mondays.

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  2. Lentil soup is one of my favorite soups and I LOVE balsamic vinegar, but I never would have thought about putting them together! Thanks for the education about balsamic vinegars, also!

    Heather

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  3. My family is really not fond of lentils, but I know I would enjoy this. Thanks for sharing it at Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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  4. I understand, I really have to be in the mood to eat lentil soup.. but this soup is so tasty, that it helps..

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  5. I haven't had lentil soup for years, but I loved it when I did. (I guess I just didn't have a recipe before) But this looks good. Thanks for the recipe.

    And thanks for visiting Cranberry Morning!

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  6. Great post & very educational. Thank you for stopping by Katie's Cucina. Sorry it took me so long to answer your question. I followed this tutorial on the button making: http://www.mandipidy.com/2010/09/diy-blog-makeover-create-your-button.html

    good luck and I can't wait to see what other great recipes you have in store.

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  7. I love lentils, so this soup sounds divine! The recipe is going into my file.

    :)
    ButterYum

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  8. This sounds delicious! Now that you mention it, I can totally imagine how well the balsamic vinegar would go with tomatoes and lentils. Thanks for sharing this with Sunday Night Soup Night, look forward to seeing you again soon!

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Thank you for your comment - I love the feedback and interaction

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