Summer's Soup

I'll be the first to admit that a bowl of soup isn't often on my list of summer foods I yearn for. However, I make an exception for my favorite vegan soup. Packed with red lentils and fresh herbs and vegetables, it's the kind of soup that does a great job of showcasing some of summer's finest produce. So it's no surprise that I make it in my slow cooker — there's no way I'm simmering it on the stove for hours in summer — and enjoy it topped with fresh chopped greens when I've got sweet carrots, parsnips, and onions on hand:

You could make this soup in winter, but when carrots are young and onions are downright juicy, you will simply get a much better tasting soup when you prepare it in summer. Using a slow cooker means very little hands-on cooking time and you can even freeze it for later if soup just isn't for you just now. That said, make sure you give it a try before tossing it in the freezer. You may find it never ends up there at all!

I like to have a bowl of this soup with chunks of focaccia, a grilled cheese (made with slices of ripe tomatoes!), or even a little side salad featuring some fresh, crunchy vegetables. Keep it simple and enjoy a soup that sings with the freshness of the season!

Red Lentil Soup

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 c. chopped onions
  • 4 stems fresh thyme
  • 4 small carrots, peeled & diced
  • 2 parsnip roots, peeled & diced
  • 1 c. red lentils
  • 4 c.s water
  • Salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika

Place the olive oil in the bottom of your slow cooker and place it on HIGH. Add the onion, thyme, carrot, parsnip, and lentils. Cover and let cook for 30-60 minutes or until the vegetables are slightly softened and you can hear them lightly frying in the oil. Lift the lid and stir gently, add the water, and replace the lid. Set the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 5-7 hours or until the lentils are falling apart and the vegetables are soft.

Before serving, stir in the salt and smoked paprika. If desired, blend the soup with an immersion blender. I prefer to blend the soup if I plan to freeze it at all, as I think the blended texture holds up to freezing better. I also like to sprinkle some chopped fresh strongly-flavored greens (such as sorrel, basil, or even green onions) over the soup just before serving.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 7-8 hours