Growing up my dad always used to make us lentil soup in the wintertime. His was very influenced by the flavors of Greece, and it involved a lot of oregano, lemon juice, and vinegar. We always had it with a bunch of warm crusty bread; I remember sticking the slices in the soup and watching them soak up the broth just until the point where the bread was about to disintegrate into the bowl, and then quickly pulling it out and taking as big a bite as my little mouth could muster. It was absolutely delicious.
As an adult, my lentil soup habits haven’t changed much. I did tweak my dad’s recipe a little bit, I used just a touch of lemon juice and some dry white wine, and I cut out the vinegar to make it a bit less tart. I also added in my lentil soup secret weapon, which is a combination of caramelized onions and sautéed shiitake mushrooms. These guys make up the flavor base of the soup broth, and they create the heartiest, most savory, and umami-laden lentil soup of all time. As much as I love lentils, the addition of mushrooms really brings their taste to a whole new level. As the lentils cook in the broth, they absorb the flavors of the mushrooms, caramelized onions, carrots, oregano, and all the wintery veggie goodness that’s in there, turning each little lentil into an umami flavor bomb.
I hope you guys enjoy this really great recipe (not to toot my own horn or anything, but it’s prettttttty delicious stuff), and that it helps you stay nice and warm this winter! Spring is only a few months away (at least that’s what I keep telling myself every time I look out to window to the garden and just see a bunch of brown mud instead of a veggie patch), but if you need some more cold-weather recipes to help keep you toasty, you can peek at my mushroom soup, boeuf bourguignon, and my one-pot-meal Moroccan chicken for a good start. Stay cozy, friends!
Lentil Soup with Mushrooms
This delicious lentil soup recipe can use brown lentils, green lentils, or red lentils. It has savory shiitake mushrooms in it for a boost of earthy umami flavor, and delicious caramelized onions, too! Perfect for a hearty and healthy winter meal.
- tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 pound carrots peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 pound dry lentils rinsed
- 10 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Kosher sea salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Crusty bread for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley for serving
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened and transparent and lightly golden around the edges, about 15 minutes to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the mushrooms, garlic, ginger and remaining teaspoon of olive oil and saute until the mushrooms have released their moisture and have darkened in color, about 10 minutes, stirring every 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots and bay leaves, reduce heat to low, and saute for 5 more minutes.
Add the lentils, broth, white wine, aleppo pepper, oregano, garlic powder, curry powder, black pepper, tomato paste and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, at least 1 hour. Stir in the lemon juice and salt to taste. Sprinkle the fresh parsley on top and serve alongside crusty bread for dipping.