SLOW COOKER LEMONY BACON-LENTIL SOUP
While I like to cook the bacon and ham with the vegetables before putting everything in the slow cooker, you could certainly cook only the bacon and add all the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker at once. If you're really stuck for time and/or have only ham and no bacon, you could even add just ham and the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker as the ham is already cooked. If you like your soup a little thicker, take out a few cups after cooking, blend them, and return them to the pot.
- 6 pieces bacon chopped
- 1/2 pound chopped cooked ham optional
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 each diced: stalks celery, large carrots
- 1 large Idaho potato peeled, and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Handful chopped parsley
- Kosher salt fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1/2 cup white wine or use 1/2 of the chicken broth below
- 15- ounce can chopped tomatoes if you skip the tomatoes, add an extra cup or two of water
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 pound brown lentils rinsed and picked over for stones, etc
- 2 well-washed lemons--use half cooked in the soup remove seeds and slice the rest to use to squeeze over the soup at the table, if desired.
- Hot sauce Grated Parmesan Cheese, Chopped Walnuts, or Sliced Lemon for garnish, optional
◊In a large pot or deep skillet, cook bacon until crispy; add ham if using. Spoon out some of the fat if necessary, leaving a tablespoon or two in the pot. Stir in onions, celery, carrots and potatoes; cook 5 minutes and add garlic. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Let cook 3 minutes or so and pour in wine, cooking and stirring another few minutes until wine is reduced by half.
◊Spoon the mixture into a 6-quart crock pot and add the remaining ingredients except hot sauce. Cook 4 -5 hours on high or 8 hours on low or until lentils and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with hot sauce, grated Parmesan Cheese, chopped walnuts, or a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.
To freeze: Lentil soup freezes easily and well. Let the soup cool completely and ladle into containers with tightly-fitted lids or into freezer bags, leaving an inch or so space at the top for expansion. Freeze for 4-6 months for best quality.
OPTIONS: 1. Cook the soup in a big soup pot on the stove? It'll work fine and lentil soup is very quick compared to, say, navy bean or pinto bean soups. Once you have everything in the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and let cook another 30 minutes or until everything is tender. Add extra water or broth if the soup becomes too thick as it cooks. 2. Want more veggies or greens? Stir a couple of cups of chopped spinach or finely shredded kale in for the last 30-60 minutes in the slow cooker or for the last 10 minutes in a stove-top pot.
WINE: Côtes du Rhône (an accessible, often inexpensive French red blend featuring Syrah.)
NEED MORE? Crusty rolls and cheese or a green salad are a good accompaniment.
DESSERT: Sliced apples and orange segments.