Lentil-Potato Soup

September 29, 2007

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When I have a long, leisurely Saturday morning, there’s nothing I like better than making soup. You can’t rush a good soup. So, pour yourself a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine, put on some music or a weekend radio program, and relax. This creamy lentil-potato is just about the most comforting soup you’ll ever eat. SAM

PS You can use butter, of course, yum!, instead of oil. But do not use red lentils. They’re perfect for some things, but they don’t have the character you need for this soup.

Lentil-Potato Soup

1 cup small dried gray-green French lentils
6 cups cold water, divided
2 large onions thinly sliced, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 pound new potatoes (3 medium)
1/3 cup instant polenta
1 bay leaf
2 (2-inch) sprigs fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/3 cup dry sherry
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Pick through the lentils, rinse them, and place them in a stockpot with 3 cups of cold water and 1 thin slice of onion. Cover, bring them to a low boil, and simmer for 25 minutes or until soft. The onion helps the lentils hold their shape. If the lentils are not soft after 25 minutes, they are old and will never cook properly. Throw them away and start over with a different batch.

Meanwhile, in large chef’s pan over medium heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon of oil until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

While the onions are sweating, place the whole potatoes in a small saucepan with cold water to cover. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Chop roughly and set aside.

Combine the lentils, along with any pot liqueur, the onions, potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, the bay leaf, thyme, sherry, and remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over high heat bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the polenta. Return to very low heat and cook until creamy, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil.

Stir the polenta into the soup and continue to simmer until creamy and reduced by 1 cup, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes.
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

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