- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large Yukon Gold potato, skin on, 1/2 inch diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 quart organic veggie stock (or organic chicken stock)
- 2 cups purified water
- 1 cup black lentils
- 1 teaspoon good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and large pinch of sea salt and sauté until the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat (to prevent the garlic from burning) and add the garlic and thyme; cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is very fragrant. Add the potato, lentils, stock, water, rest of the sea salt and pepper. The amount of salt needed will depend on what type of stock you use. Stir the pot and taste to check your seasonings, add more salt if needed. Turn the heat to high bringing the pot to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
Simmer about 45-minutes until the lentils have absorbed all of the liquid – the lentils will be whole and there shouldn’t be any liquid left in the pot. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and another small drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Add more or less vinegar to taste, but start small as it delivers big flavor. Serve warm. To store, allow the lentils to come to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator in a glass container up to four days, or freeze up to 3 months.
- There are many varieties of lentils. If you want to eat them whole, choose a small firm lentil like a black or fresh green lentil. Red and yellow lentils tend to be softer and fall apart in the cooking process.
- 1 quart = 4 cups. If you don’t have stock on hand, you can use purified water, and add a veggie bouillon cube if you have one.
- Balsamic vinegar is a good place to spend a little more for a higher-quality ingredient because a little goes a long way. Look for something that has been aged at least 8 years because it will be sweeter and more intense. The really cheap stuff that’s barely aged is so acidic and doesn’t taste great, so most people end up pushing it to the back of their cabinets and never using it. Find one you love.
- A handful of fresh greens, like spinach or kale, stirred into your warm lentils before serving makes delicious and healthful addition to the meal.
- To turn these lentils into soup, add one more quart of veggie or chicken stock when you add the first box of stock. Continue to cook in the same manner and after 45-minutes puree half of the soup mixture in a blender and add back to the pot, or use an immersion blender to blend the soup to the desired consistency.