While reorganizing my pantry, I came across a giant jar of lentils and realized we have not had lentil soup even once this winter. Despite snowdrop sightings in Brooklyn, there’s still a stretch of soup weather left before it really warms up.
I love lentils, but have long had an aversion to lentil soup. Most of the bowls set before me were more stew than soup. Many were sludgy.
So I tinkered a bit and settled on this version, featuring beluga lentils floating around in a savory broth with bits of tomato and bacon and generous pieces of escarole. Any lentil will do, I just happened to have beluga lentils on hand.
This dish even stays brothy when reheated and it seems you really cannot overcook escarole.
It goes like this—
2 T olive oil
2–3 slices bacon, sliced thinly crosswise
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 cup chopped tomatoes, Pomi brand is great here
2 cups beluga lentils
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bunch escarole, or half if your bunch is enormous
Bring a 4–5 qt. pot of water to boil, season with salt and add lentils. Lower heat to a simmer, and gently cook the lentils until just tender. I pay attention here so that the lentils don’t overcook and get mushy. 15–20 minutes should do it.
While the lentils are simmering wash the escarole and chop roughly. I went for 2 inch pieces here. Don’t dry the escarole.
Drain lentils and return the pot to the stove. Warm the olive oil over medium heat then add the bacon. Sauté bacon till nicely brown but not too crisp.
Add garlic, stir for 30 seconds then add tomatoes and thyme. Raise heat and stir well for a minute, then add lentils and broth. Lower to a good simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add escarole and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve with a glug of olive oil.