Creamy Lentil Soup with Garlic and Bacon: Veloute aux Lentilles
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A few years ago, I had the good fortune to visit Le Puy-en-Velay. Many pilgrims start their pilgrimage to Compostela from the Le Puy’s cathedral. And if they are smart they fortify themselves for the long journey with a meal of “poor man’s caviar”, aka les lentilles du Puy. Grown in a unique micro-climate, the lentilles du Puy gained an AOC in 1996. They have been grown in the area for over 2,000 years.
This lentil soup is flavored with garlic, onions and bacon. What makes it different is that the lentils are separated from the bacon and whizzed in a blender, then stirred back into the broth to make the soup wonderfully velvety. The bacon is then chopped and stirred back in with a little cream.
Makes 4 hearty dinner servings, 6-8 small entrée servings
• 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 garlic cloves, pressed
• 2 onions, minced
• 1-1/2 cups lentils (I like the small green French AOC lentils, Lentilles du Puy)
• 8 oz. bacon (about 8 strips cut in half)
• 7-8 cups chicken stock
• 1 3-inch sprig of thyme
• 1 cup cream
• salt and white pepper to taste (watch the salt, since the bacon is probably salty enough)
1. Melt the butter over med-low in a dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft but not at all browned.
2. Add the bacon and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Stir in the lentils, 7 cups of chicken stock and the thyme sprig. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the lentils are soft. (Lentilles du Puy will take less time to cook—about 30 to 45 minutes.)
5. Place a colander over a large bowl. Pour in the soup, separating the lentils from the broth. Remove the bacon strips from the lentils and set the bacon to the side. Wipe out the dutch oven and pour the broth back into the pot.
6. Place the lentils in the bowl of a food processor and purée.
7. Skim the fat off of the broth, stir in the lentil purée.
8. Slice the bacon. Add the bacon back into the pot and stir in the cream. Simmer over med-low heat for about 10 minutes to heat through.
Serve hot, garnish with parsley if desired.
Debra Fioritto contributes delicious French recipes to Wednesday issues of BonjourParis. Click on her name to read more about her Tour de Forks culinary tours or to collect the many recipes she has shared here.
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