Lentil Market Soup

November 8, 2007

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This hearty cold-weather market soup is especially tasty with cream! SAM & HARRY

1 cup small gray-green lentils
6 cups water, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, thinly sliced, divided
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons toasted, ground cumin
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium turnips, diced
3 new potatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup polenta
Sea salt and freshly ground white peppercorns to taste
Crème fraîche or heavy cream

Pick through the lentils and rinse. Place in a stockpot with 3 cups of cold water and 1 thin slice of onion, cover, bring to a low boil, and simmer for 25 minutes or until soft.

In a large chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high and add the cumin, stirring until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, turnips, potatoes, and sherry and cover until hot, about 3 minutes. Uncover, add the bay leaves and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked lentils and any pot liquor. Reduce the heat to low.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup of lightly salted water to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the polenta. Return to low heat and whisk until thick, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon oil and stir into the lentil mixture. Add 2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until reduced by 2 cups, stirring frequently. Serve with a tablespoon of crème fraîche or heavy cream stirred into each bowl.
Makes 2 quarts.