Parenting is full of surprises. My kids lighting up with excitement over lentil soup was one of them. When I had kids, I imagined (okay, fantasized) there would be indulgent years of quesadillas, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese in my future. Then came baby Jake who quickly turned that fantasy into the reality that there would be no Kid’s Menu for us.
When Jake was a baby, I would secure him into the highchair. His tiny feet would kick and his little fists would pound the plastic tray in eager anticipation of food. To put it lightly, Jake was an enthusiastic eater, evidenced by the delicious rolls of baby fat that wrinkled his arms and legs (think Shar-Pei). Oh, how I miss those squeezable thighs.
Jake happily devoured his food at meal time. When he really loved something he would cry out, “More! More! More!” By stark contrast, when it came to anything with cheese, it was a very different scene. He closed his mouth tightly, shook his head vigorously, and said, “No! No! No!” Cleary, this was a kid who knew what he liked and what he didn’t like. This was the beginning of our life off of the Kid’s Menu.
This simple soup is the version that got my kids eating lentils. When I serve this to children, I usually make a small shaped pasta (like macaroni or ditalini). I put a spoonful of cooked pasta in the serving bowl and ladle the soup over the top. Another option to make this soup a bit heartier is to add a spoonful of cooked rice (brown or white) to the bottom of the bowl.
The flavor is straightforward and there is something so comforting about this soup. My family loves it so much it’s in regular rotation around here. I serve it for dinner with salad and a great bread or as a starter with roast chicken. Left overs are usually sent to school for lunch the next day. If you are interested in making this vegetarian, simply swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped carrot
- ½ cup chopped celery (save leaves for garnish)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1¼ cups french green lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 6 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- garnish with grated parmesan cheese, celery leaves, or flat leaf parsley
- Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onions, celery, and carrots.
- Cook until vegetables soften about 10-12 minutes.
- When vegetables are tender add tomato sauce, lentils, and broth.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30-35 minutes until lentils are tender.
- Transfer 2 cups of soup to blender and puree. Return puree to soup.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve soup in bowls and garnish.