Mediterranean Vegetable Soup with Lentils

Puttering around in the kitchen listening to crickets and cicadas while I cut, chop, baste and stir is heavenly for me. This time of year brings me a deep satisfaction somehow, as the pace of life begins to quicken again. I have this sense of something about to happen.

It also saddens me, because another summer (so precious to us northerners!) is on the wane.

When I was a teenager, my mother and I often took walks together after dark this time of year. It was a chance for me to share my hopes for the school year ahead and my dreams for a time beyond school. We'd often choose a neighborhood to the northeast of Frenchtown, where the houses, built after 1915, were mostly shingled bungalows or 1920's-style cottages. Catching a glimpse of someone else's evening through an unshuttered window captured my imagination, and it is an image that has stayed with me for many years.

These days I sit on my side porch, or my newly-built (but yet unpainted) front porch and watch the street lights create pools of light in the evening. Occasionally, I will see a dog walker or jogger. My house is more than 110 years old now, and I often wonder about others who have sat on that porch watching night fall in years past. Did they feel the mix of contentment and sadness I feel this time of year?

Sunday was a day for sunshine and crickets, nightfall and porch sitting.

Our dinner of chicken, tomatoes and peppers was simple but comforting. The best part was the juice from the bottom of the roasting pan. I knew when I caught its aroma (and sneaked a spoonful) that I would be making soup Sunday night.

Easy Mediterranean Vegetable Soup with Lentils

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, Italian style
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • dash freshly-ground pepper
  • dash fleur de sel

Place olive oil, butter and onion in skillet; brown slightly. Add chicken stock, water and lentils. Bring to a boil and lower heat, simmering for about 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, adding zucchini as carrots begin to soften. Simmer at least 20 minutes longer, adding salt and pepper.

I expect to get at least four meals out of this. My husband is not a vegetable soup fan, but even he admitted this smelled heavenly while simmering.

I used Lentils de Puy, purchased last year in Paris. Wonderful! I'll have to pick up another bag next month at Carrefour or Leclerc.

The soup lasted all week. I paired it with goat cheese and roasted pepper on crusty rolls.


;0) Gosh I brought back bags of the lentils but now I can get them here. They somehow don't have exactly the same 'feel' but Lentils de Puy are the best and they do make me feel closer to Paris and France.
Funny how no matter how old we get, the "year" always seems to start in September....
Tanna, I can't seem to get enough of these lentils. So I am brining another suitcase just for food to bring back.

I agree, Lydia, this is a time for fresh starts.
Christine said…
What can I say but YUMMmmm! Your soup, coming on the heals of a roast chicken dinner - sounds heavenly!
Judy said…
Hi Mimi. Thanks for reminding me of the chicken dish and for the leftovers idea. I've made the chicken and with our cooler weather looming it's a good time to get out the recipe again. I love September with the cooling days and nights but I'm not sure I'm raedy for the the snow yet.
Roxie said…
Sounds yummy. Will try this.
Eileen said…
Sounds wonderful! I'm ready for this kind of food. I love summer and all of my garden's bounty, but come the end of August I want to make meals that heat up the kitchen. How I wish I could give you a grocery list when you're in France next month!! September is a great time to be there.
TNelson said…
The soup looks delicious (I love the "soup and stew" season coming up ... even if it means colder shorter days). Thanks for the link to the roast chicken - I'm ready to start cooking these types of recipes again and this chicken looks so good and the recipe seems fairly simple. Count me as another to whom the year seems to begin in September.

Christine, when the weather gets a bit cooler, these meals are indeed heavenly. I am motivated to cook AND eat.

Roxie, please let me know how it turns out.

Eileen, I feel the same way. I am packing less to bring more back, too.

Happy New Year, Trish!
breadchick said…
OH Mimi! I just was making out my menu for the last week of the Pantry Plan and was trying to figure out what to do with a bag of lentils I have. I know exactly what I'm going to do with them now!
Mary, I hope you like this as much as I did. I ate it for supper all week long.

I may just have to make more.

I'd originally planned to add chicken, but it was good without the chicken.
This recipe soundsand looks delicious...I hope to try this as I adore lentils.
I am just now cooking some crimson lentils for a salad for dinner.

Looking forward to automne for the weather and the comforting dishes.
Have a great trip tp Paris...!
Hi Terrie:

I have a hard time finding regular lentils locally, much less red lentils, but when I lived in Madison, I could find them at Willie St. Co-op. Those were the days!

It's turned hot again in Wisconsin, and we are having stuffed zucchini tonight.
Fiona said…
That lentil soup looks wonderful and would go down a real treat here at the moment with it still being cold and wintry.

I smiled to myself when I read about your evening walks as a child, looking into peoples homes and wondering about their evenings, I found that fascinating as a youngster too.
Hi Fiona, and thanks for visiting! One of these days, I will make something from that Kiwi cookbook you sent me! Not all the ingredients are available locally, but I will find substitutes.
Champsleeve said…
Mimi, I made this yesterday with the hope of eating it all week long (it's supposed to be rainy and cold). My parents ended up coming over after my daughter's soccer game though and we all liked it so much, there were no leftovers!

Dana, I'm glad you liked it! Did you use French lentils? They are the best!!
Champsleeve said…
I did use French lentils. I never really liked lentils until I discovered the French ones. They are so much better than the regular brown ones you usually find.

synthetic grass said…
This is one of my favorite vegetable soup! I find it hard to cook it right myself, but thankfully my sister-in-law is good at preparing it. Your pictures made me hungry.

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