Soup warms body and soul on a winter day

At last winter’s chill has plunged the area into a deep freeze. When faced with cold weather, the foods we crave need a certain body to them. One of these important dishes is soup. In American folklore, chicken soup is said to be a healing meal.

One thing we know for sure is soup can be exceptionally nutritious, while at the same time being satisfying to a wide variety of the needs of our taste buds.

At my house, I make large pots of soup, cool them down, and then portion them into individual servings for my freezer. Of course I label these, with the contents and date. The best way to thaw is to place the frozen container of soup in the refrigerator overnight, but I don’t always remember. So sometimes I need to take the soup container out of the freezer and place the container in a pan of warm water. This will begin to thaw the soup.

After the soup has begun to thaw I can remove it from the container and place it in a pot, turn on the heat, medium low. The soup warms in short order and I’m having a delicious, nutritious meal.

Lentil Soup

Serves 8

1 Tbl canola oil

1 medium onion, small dice

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

2 celery ribs, cleaned small dice

2 carrots, cleaned small dice

2 quarts chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried thyme

2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and cleaned

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 can diced tomatoes, with juice

1½ cups diced, cooked meat (chicken breast or ham)

1 6 to 7 oz bag of fresh baby spinach, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

In your stockpot, heat the oil and add the onion, sweat for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the stock, lentils, bay leaves, thyme and red pepper flakes, bring to a simmer. Continue cooking until the lentils are tender, 1½ to 2 hours. Add the carrots, celery, spinach, tomato and the ham or chicken. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove bay leaves. Adjust your seasonings with the salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Ladle out servings and top with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy!

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