Back in December of last year I pulled out a recipe for lentil soup with spinach and basil from Cooking Light. I had a bumper crop of basil and some left over lentils from a Martha Stewart recipe I made. Turns out this soup is now officially a family favorite. Everyone loves it - even the baby and the picky 3 year old.
I make a batch of it and freeze half before adding in the spinach, basil and cheese. Truth is, you really don't have to have those things. They are a plus but the soup is just as good without it. It is some work (pureeing is involved). But take my word for it, totally worth it. And I will whip out the Cuisinart for anything that the entire family will and can eat happily. I had to share.
Spinach and Lentil Soup with Cheese and Basil
modified from Cooking Light
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped bacon (about 1 ounce)
1 small shallot chopped
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped carrot
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
½ cup Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add bacon; cook 1 minute or until bacon begins to brown, stirring occasionally.
2. Add shallot and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Add lentils, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is slightly thickened.
4. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf.
5. Place 2 cups lentil mixture in a blender (or food processor). Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure blender lid on blender.
6. Return pureed lentil mixture to pan. If freezing stop here, let cool and freeze.
7. Add baby spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and black pepper; stir until spinach wilts.