I never thought I’d be pushing lentils on anyone, but this smoky lentil stew is so packed with flavor that it’s turned me into a fan. It’s the perfect, low-maintenance meal to have cooking on the stove while you’re preparing elaborate Thanksgiving side dishes, which is how I spent my weekend. (We celebrated Thanksgiving on Sunday.)
I think my husband about fell out of his chair when I told him I was cooking lentils. He loves lentils and has only waited 21 years for me to fulfill his request to make something with them. (I didn’t want to spoil him.)
In my defense, I’ve bought lentils in the past, and wouldn’t you know it, the expiration date had passed by the time I considered doing anything with them. So, I bought the lentils again probably a year ago, and they stared at me like a sack of good intentions every time I opened my pantry. (Don’t tell my husband, but I was secretly hoping they’d go bad so I could use that as an excuse once more.) But last week, when I glanced at the expiration date, it showed the lentils were good for another whole year. Oy.
So, the guilt finally got to me. I watched an Ina Garten (I love her recipes) video on lentil soup, and decided to use it for guidance. I omitted the leeks, since I don’t stock them, cooked my onions until they were almost brown and added some Liquid Smoke for a nice flavor kick. I changed the amounts of the remaining ingredients according to what I had on hand, and the result was a hearty, comforting and intensely flavorful bowl of stew, really, since most of the chicken stock was absorbed. I could have added some water to make it more soupy, but didn’t want to dilute an ounce of that delicious onion-y, smoky flavor. We sprinkled on some fresh Parmesan, and wow. Just wow.
My husband went back for seconds before I had even finished my serving, and we gleefully enjoyed the leftovers for an early lunch yesterday, while the turkey was in the oven. In full disclosure, our kids have never liked lentils and were not won over. I think lentils are an acquired taste, though, and am glad to hoard the extras.
I’ll definitely be making this smoky lentil stew again. For my husband. I’m considerate like that.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Ina Garten)