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spicy lentil soup with quinoa

August 6, 2010

This may seem like an unlikely post for August.  Except in Swizterland.  Where apparently the words for August and October are basically the same.  For longer than I’d like to admit, we’ve experienced weather that actually made me consider breaking out nylons again (the horror!).  It’s just not right.  August is bare leg season.

just another cold rain

Cool weather doesn’t mean light salads, it means hearty soups and since I can never get enough lentils–ever, I thought I would give this one a go.  The soup itself is from an old stand-by, Cook’s Illustrated.  I added harissa to add an element of spicy and then decided to add a dollop of toasted quinoa to each bowl just to make it even heartier.  With or without the quinoa rocked.  Perfect amount of smoky, spicy and yummy.  And it only tasted better the next day.

So, hopefully, you’re outside, enjoying a summer bbq, complete with sweet summer corn and a beautiful salad.  But just in case you find yourself under a blanket on a cold August night, give this recipe a whirl.  It’s the kind of comfort food that makes not seeing the sun slightly more bearable.  With that said, forecast for the weekend is sunny and pleasant.  Fingers crossed, kids.

hearty spicy lentil soup with red quinoa
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated


  • 3 oz/85g bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 14.5 oz/400g can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 5 oz/140g baby spinach, rinsed
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup (7 ounces/200g) lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cp (slightly over 1 dl) white wine dry
  • 4.5 cps low sodium chicken broth
  • 1.5 cps water
  • 1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup of red quinoa


  1. Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil in a medium pot.
  2. Add quinoa, reduce water to a simmer and cover until water is completely absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  3. Fry bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to render fat, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add onion and carrots to the bacon and cook until soft, about 2 minutes
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf, cook again until fragrant, another 30 seconds.
  7. Stir in lentils, salt, pepper, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook until the vegetables have softened and the lentils are dark, about 8-10 mins.
  8. Uncover, increase the heat to high, add wine and bring to simmer.
  9. Add chicken broth, water and bring to a boil.  Cover partially, and reduce heat to low.
  10. Simmer until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape.  About 30-35 minutes.  Discard bay leaf.
  11. Puree about 3 cups of the soup in a blender and then return to pot.
  12. Add vinegar and continue to heat the soup on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.
  13. Stir in baby spinach and heat until fully wilted.
  14. Serve in bowls with a scoop of quinoa.

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