Monday, March 31, 2014

Black Lentil Soup – Always Bet on Black

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with green lentil soup, but once you start making it with black “beluga” lentils, you’ll have a hard time going back. These black beauties cook up melt-in-your-mouth tender, but still retain their structural integrity, which gives the soup both a thick, satisfying body, and a light, non-starchy mouthfeel.

The flavor is wonderfully meaty, especially when you toss in a handful of bacon, and they require absolutely no finesse to prepare perfectly. Just simmer until you have achieved lentil tenderness, adding broth as needed. That’s pretty much it.

I’m told black lentils are really good for you, which is weird, since I’ve never asked anybody. Nevertheless, this is a soup you can feel good about putting into your body, unlike that “Bacon Jalapeño Popper Chowder” recipe you got off Pinterest. We’re still right in the middle of soup season, so the next time you feel like a hot bowl, I hope you give this black lentil soup a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large portions:
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 oz bacon
1 cup yellow onion, large dice
1 cup carrots, large dice
1 cup celery, large dice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1 1/4 cup black lentils
5 to 6 cups chicken broth, or as needed
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp extra good extra virgin olive oil


Beth said...

Looks scrumptious! Great excuse to toast and grind whole cumin seeds & make the kitchen smell like heaven.

Jason Smith said...

I can't believe that you didn't get a single nod from Saveur...That stinks!!!

Jason Smith said...

Also....Saveur: Those Bastards!!!

Franken Stein said...

It really looks thick! I'll have to try this out.

Patrick said...

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who heard a record skip and immediately googled "Bacon Jalapeño Popper Chowder"

blogagog said...

You know what they say. "Once you go black, you only have other colored food once in a while."

Wait, is that how the saying goes?

William DiStefano said...

I couldn't find black lentils so I agonized with just using what lentils they had but the picture on your site was so awesome I just knew I needed something like that presentation. I used black beans and followed the rest of the recipe. Absolutely fantastic, thank you Chef! this is definitely going to be a go to soup for me!

vera sugár said...

I made it from green lentils - my tiny shop was unlikely to have black ones. Really want to try them though. Anyhoo, the soup was fantastic! Thanks!

Dave said...

I also couldn't find black lentils, so I made this with red lentils, my theory being that since red is a fun colour, it would taste good. Turned out delicious!

Susan Sparkles said...

I have never cooked a soup without garlic before. There is a first time for everything. I got my black lentils online. They looked too yummy to not get the real thing.

Sean said...

I'm in a small town and nobody has black lentils. Not even the Co-op. What is the best substitute?

Chef John said...

Any lentil will work!

TerribleTim said...

"And what makes it different?'s better!"

I really feel (sorry) for those of you who are making this recipe without the star ingredient, the black lentil!

Chef John is right -- they really DO have a unique, "meaty" flavor profile (consistent with other black beans), which combines fantastically with the other ingredients in this recipe.

For full disclosure, I'm a vegetarian, so I used a "chicken-flavored" broth powder to replicate the chicken stock, and vegetarian "fake bacon" in place of the real thing. My meat-eating friends nevertheless thought this soup was to-die-for, so this recipe CAN indeed swing both ways! Thank you Chef John!!

Fabio Papa said...

My local specialty grocery has just about every variety of lentil you can imagine, but none labeled "black" lentils. They did however have "French" lentils, which are, um, black. Are they the same?

Fabio Papa said...

My local specialty grocery store has just about every variety of lentil you can imagine, but they don't have "black" lentils. They do however have "French" lentils, which are, um, black. Are they the same?

Justin Flynn said...

Do you need to soak the lentils before use?

Toshiko Suisei said...

You don't need to soak them before cooking but soaking overnight at room temp does lessen the phytates, which lentils have a lot of. Phytates block your ability to absorb minerals from what you're eating.

Dingus McDoohickey said...

I finally got around to making this last night, and I just want to say thank you to Chef John for introducing me to black lentils. You're absolutely right, they are different. Because they're better! While I'm not precisely a legume hater, I've always struggled with the pasty mouth feel of most legumes, but these black lentils were a revelation! And the soup turned out delicious. Thanks again, Chef John.