Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lentil & Pasta Stew

Those cold, icy days of winter have always made me crave a hot bowl of thick stew. The kind of stew that "sticks to your bones". The comfort food that warms you from the inside out. I love all kinds of thick soups and stews. Beef stew, Potato Leek, Split Pea with Ham, and Lentil Soup.

Lentil soup is so quick and easy to make that it is perfect for a weeknight dinner on one of those winter nights. Not only is it easy but it is really good for you. Lentils are very high in protein, making them a staple for most vegetarians. They are also rich in vitamin B1, folate, and iron. Lentils are also very high in fiber, which help to lower cholesterol, virtually fat-free, and very low in calories.

I can across a spiffed up version of a basic lentil soup and made some minor adjustments to it. The result was wonderful. A hearty stew, full of flavor and texture that was ready to eat in about an hour. Vince specifically requested that this one make it into the menu rotation along with his favorite "crack soup" aka Split Pea with Ham.

The servings sizes are pretty large, about a cup and a half, and the points are still pretty low. Add in some hot buttered rolls and it is comfort food heaven.

Lentil & Pasta Stew
Adapted from What's Cookin', Chicago?

1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 lb Bacon, diced
1 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 Cup Carrots, chopped
2 Bay Leaves
1 lb Dry Lentils
10 Cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
8 oz Whole Wheat Elbow Macaroni

  1. In a large stock pot, cook the bacon, onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme until the bacon is crisp and the vegetables are soft (about 8 minutes).
  2. Add the dry lentils and cook for a minute.
  3. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
  5. Discard the bay leaves.
  6. Using a potato masher (or immersion blender) mash the soup into a stew-like consistency.
  7. Add the cream and dry pasta to the soup.
  8. The stew may need to be thinned with 2-4 cups of water.
  9. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the pasta is tender.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yields 12 servings

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