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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Mushroom Lentil Soup

Fall is my favorite time of the year for smells. From sweet, apple pie-esque aromas to the earthy essence of brightly colored leaves and their cool, dry fragrant dustiness. Fall also comes with some amazing seasonal flavor combinations. One I’ve recently been enjoying is the pairing of lentils and wild mushrooms.

As a self-admitted carnivore, it is often challenging for me to create dishes that can be enjoyed by my vegetarian and pescetarian friends. Never one to back down from a challenge, I’ve taken it upon myself to bring out my favorite earthy “beef stew” flavors without using any meat at all, creating a delicious, mouthwatering mushroom and lentil soup.

In this soup, I’ve used one of my favorite bases, lentils, for protein and bulk, along with wild mushrooms and herbs for a nice, rustic, earth-toned flavor profile. Mushrooms and lentils can also share a subtle nuttiness that is particularly lovely. As Mother Nature’s sponge, mushrooms are wonderfully versatile, exuding and showcasing whatever you choose to infuse them with. I’ve chosen to add a touch of Frazzitta Marsala wine for its warm, savory notes that play beautifully off the rest of the dish.

• 1 large yellow onion, rough chopped
• 3 medium shallots, rough chopped
• ½ cup carrots, julienned
• ¼ pound unsalted butter
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2-3 ounces dried wild mushrooms
• ½ cup Marsala wine (I prefer Frazzitta)
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• 10 cups water
• 2 cups lentils (I prefer red or pink since they require little to no soaking)
• 1 bay leaf

Begin by adding the onion, shallots, and carrots to a stock pot along with the butter and olive oil. On medium heat, simmer the vegetables until just past the point where the onion becomes translucent, stirring regularly. Season the mixture generously with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, reconstitute the mushrooms by soaking them in 2 cups of warm water mixed with ¼ cup of marsala wine. Add ¼ cup of the wine to the vegetable mixture and continue to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Add the reconstituted mushrooms and the bay leaf, and bring the combination to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the vegetable stock and the remaining 8 cups of water. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Add 2 cups of lentils, and bring the entire mixture to a boil again. (Be sure not to add the lentils too early or they will become overcooked and lose their texture.) Season generously again with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Cover and reduce the heat, cooking for another 20 minutes.

Serve topped with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a pinch of chiffonade (thinly sliced) basil. Enjoy!

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