Sharpen your knife, clean your cutting board, throw on some music, because most of this soup is all prep work!
Something about that salmon and lentils dish we put together for French Fridays has caused me to fall in love with lentils. I even went to Luc’s restaurant, run and owned by The Chef in the Hat in Seattle and had a roasted chicken and lentils dish there that I absolutely fell in love with as well! So while I was at the spice stand at a town about an hour away, I bought up two KILOGRAMS of French Lentils du Puy! This spice stand is truly amazing… you can find virtually any spice you like and get it in bulk for much cheaper and assuredly fresh-er than any little container in a grocery store. So I tend to stock up on the spices that I go through fairly quickly and regularly when I am there since it’s not a place we often go.
Now that I have an enormous jar of these beautiful lentils on my dining room table, I knew I needed to start making different things with them and why not a pork and lentil soup on a warm, nearly summer’s day?
Haha! Why do we do things like make piping hot soups on a hot summer’s day? I don’t know but this one was especially appealing to me, since the recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen and works best made in your crockpot while you are out doing things with your day and that’s something I really just don’t do. Which is weird to say also, because I own five crockpots!
Mei is really still a bit too young to handle eating soup, so we just strained the liquid out and let her munch on the bits that wound up inside of the soup but it turns out that she really didn’t care for it… I’m sure that will change in the future but for now, this soup is just for my husband and I; which is a bit disconcerting as well because it is enough for 8 people and there were only the two of us!
As it turns out, I was really excited for this soup and then it didn’t taste good to me at all. By the spoonful, it was just not a great taste – which is weird since all the things that went into the soup are things that I really love, and combined with lentils are the flavors that I really like. But then, if I ate just the carrots or just the lentils, I LOVED it! Darn pregnancy! So it turns out that my husband wound up eating most of this soup by himself for what I’m sure what seemed like weeks!
Of course, you can freeze this and bring it out for one of those days that you dont feel like cooking or ran out of time with all the things that we commit ourselves to these days but however you decide to do it, this is absolutely delicious on the day that you make it and so versatile, since you can add in any other veggies that you like and omit any you may not care for. We didn’t take advantage of it this time, but a poached egg would also be a perfect adornment on the top of this soup and great for added protein if you choose not to use pork or any other meat in your soup.
Ingredients: Adapted from “The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Recipes & Reviews 2012″
- 2 onions, chopped fine
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
- 1-1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
- 4 C low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 C vegetable broth
- 4 slices of bacon (I omitted this and it was just as great)
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 medium portobello mushroom caps, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (there were none available so I just used chestnut mushrooms)
- 7 oz (1 C) brown lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used French Lentils de Puy)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 lbs (or more if you like) pork shoulder, on the bone or smoked ham
- 8 oz Swiss chard or kale, stemmed, leaves sliced 1/2 inch thick
- salt and pepper to taste
In a frying pan, saute the onions, garlic, oil, tomato paste, porcini mushrooms, thyme, carrots and portobello mushrooms until the vegetables have softened, about five minutes then transfer to your slow cooker.
Stir in the chicken browth, vegetable broth, bacon, lentils and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Set your chunk of pork shoulder or ham on top, mostly covered with liquid. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender about 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.
Stir in the chard, cover and cook on high until the chard is tender, 20-30 minutes. Discard the bacon and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Additionally, I removed the chunk of ham and we shredded it and put it back in with the rest of the soup for serving.