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  Smoky Vegetable Lentil Soup



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4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and diced
1 small fennel and tender stems, diced
4-6 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil or thyme or an herb blend
1 Tablespoon tamari
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
4-6 threads saffron (optional)
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup smoked sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2-3 small carrots ,cut into thin circles
1/2 cup green beans, snapped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup favorite salsa, not chunky
1 tomato, diced
1 Tablespoon maple or cane syrup
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste

In a lidded soup pot, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until the edges are browned.
Stir in celery and fennel and sauté about 5 minutes before adding the mushrooms, coriander, smoked sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Move the veggies to the sides to clear a space on the bottom of the pot.
Add the remaining olive oil, tomato paste and herb of choice. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring tomato paste constantly,
before stirring everything together. Add the tamari, broth, water and saffron. Stir well and bring to a boil.
Stir in lentils and return to boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add sun-dried tomatoes, carrots, green beans, salsa and tomato.
Return to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are soft and carrots are cooked.
Stir in maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer uncovered an additional 5 minutes before serving.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Copyright © 2018 Stefanie Samara Hamblen