This rich and hearty lentil soup recipe is filled with healthy, flavorful ingredients, and a bit of pancetta — everything in moderation!
Perfect … that is something I am not.
I’m the mom who needs a haircut, but can’t seem to find time to get one. I’m also the mom who keeps an up-to-date digital calendar, to make sure my kids make every practice, rehearsal, meeting and competition. I’m the mom who makes meal plans, but who also tosses them out the window when they don’t work in our schedule. I pack lunches for the kids most days but often forget — or don’t make time for — making my own. And I’m the mom who stayed up late the night before my son’s Greek costume was due, hand pleating the shoulder and sewing decorative ribbon onto an oversized t-shirt. I barely know how to sew by hand, and it was the best I could do.
I’m organized where I think it matters most, and don’t stress much where it doesn’t. I value order and process, but like to be spontaneous too. I’m shy, but love doing more outgoing things … once I am doing them. And my biggest pet peeve is not being listened to.
Like everyone — and I mean literally everyone — I am not a one-sided, flat person. I am not just a mom or just a journalist or just a recipe developer. I am someone with interests, thoughts, plans and goals. I am someone who is informed by her experiences and aims to be educated on current events. Always.
One of my flaws? While I plan dinners for weeknights, I don’t often remember that weekends need meals too.Winging it is okay sometimes, but when Sunday evenings roll around, it’s way better to have a plan.
That’s where this recipe comes in. Lentil Soup with Pancetta is something to make on a Sunday afternoon, letting it simmer while you read or re-watch Gilmore Girls for the eleventy-thousandth time.
Rich and hearty, this soup is dotted with bits of pancetta, giving it a hint — just a hint — of meatiness. But it’s also filled with good-for-you ingredients. It’s a recipe that shows how healthy and a bit of indulgence can coexist.
And it’s just plain good, so there’s that too.
The flavor develops during the hour long simmering process, bringing together the herbs, veggies, salty pancetta and lentils in a symphony of flavor. Heavenly.
Did I mention that this is good for you too?
Lentils, a legume, are rich in dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble), which is good for a healthy digestive tract and heart. Carrots are rich in antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which are good for the cardiovascular system. And carrots are also great for vision health (though they don’t actually allow folks to have x-ray vision as I told my kids when they were very little. Plus there’s tomatoes and red bell peppers (both also rich in antioxidants), as well as onions and garlic (both have anti-inflammatory benefits!).
So, make this. Enjoy it. Share it.
Lentil Soup with Pancetta
- 3 oz. diced pancetta
- 1 sweet onion (vidalia), diced
- 4 carrots , sliced
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 28- oz can crushed tomatoes (do not drain)
- 1 1/2 cup lentils , rinsed and picked over
- 6 cups water
- In a stockpot set over medium heat, brown the pancetta (about 7-10 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the stockpot to a bowl, leaving the rendered fat.
- Add the onions, carrots and red pepper to the book. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened. The onions should be translucent (about 7-8 minutes).
- Stir the garlic, thyme, rosemary, tumeric, salt and pepper into the pan. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the crushed tomatoes with their juices, lentils and water to the pan. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 hour.
- Stir the pancetta back into the pot. Enjoy.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.