By Katie Workman of Cookstr.com
Sometimes we all fall into the trap of making assumptions about what our kids will and won’t eat, and we avoid something new because we anticipate that it won’t be met with open arms. Beans often fall into this category. And I will say for the record that my oldest (age 9) is only slightly amenable to beans in certain soups and dishes, but my younger one (age 6) will eat half a can of garbanzos in a sitting. He really adores bean soups and bean stews, which makes it very easy get some good protein and fiber into him without making meat the centerpiece of every dinner. This lentil soup met with a big thumbs up from him. Sometimes if I’m offering up a new thing in my house, I’ll put a few tablespoons in a small ramekin and give it to my kids to taste - much less overwhelming to them than being presented with a full bowl of something they’re feeling skeptical about.
Just to confirm: the alcohol in the red wine cooks off completely, and all that’s left is a nice flavor boost. You don’t have to get the Le Puy lentils or the arborio rice, but those ingredients do take the soup to a different level.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped carrots
11/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup rice (preferably arborio)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
splash red or white wine (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup lentils (look for the tiny le Puy variety - they have wonderful flavor)
4-5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed
grated Parmesan to serve (optional)
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and carrots, and stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rice and thyme, and stir occasionally for the 3 more minutes. Add the wine, if using, and stir for one minute until almost evaporated. Add the salt, pepper, tomatoes, lentils and chicken broth and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered over medium low-heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and the rice are tender. Feel free to add more liquid if you like a thinner soup (the next day the soup will likely have thickened considerably, and you may want to thin with more water and broth at this point, as you reheat).
Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan on top, if desired.