Sunday, August 15, 2010

Farmers’ Market Lentil Vegetable Soup

This soup is a function of what I had on the hand from the farmers’ market last week that I wanted to use before my next trip to the market. I make things like this often which I call clean out the refrigerator dishes. You can use any veggies you have on hand. The addition of lentils makes this a more filling soup than it would be without them. I you have other cooked beans on hand those would be great in this too. What makes this dish is the fresh pesto garnish and the fennel and leek flavors in the broth.

Farmers’ Market Lentil Vegetable Soup
Serves 8


green tops from two leeks (optional, for making a quick stock, but recommended)
8 cups of water
2 cups dried mushrooms
4 cups of water, to soak the mushrooms
1 red onion, finely chopped (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes, to taste (start with a small amount and cook for 15 minutes then taste the heat needs to cook to develop)
2 cups peeled diced tomatoes or a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (to add a richer background to the soup base)
4 carrots, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup red lentils, picked through and rinsed
2 zucchini, diced
4 cups cabbage, shredded (you want it to fit easily on a soup spoon)

Pesto ingredients:

1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled


Wash the leek tops very well. Chop them into rough pieces and allow to stand 10 minutes before heating. Since they are in the same family as onions and garlic I have decided to allow them to stand before cooking as well. I do not know for a fact that this enhances the nutrition but it is reasonable that it would, so I can wait 10 minutes.

Once the 10 minutes is up combine the leeks and 8 cups of water and simmer for at least 30 minutes to get the flavor from the leeks into the water. I simmered this for an hour. Strain the broth through a fine wire strainer to remove any grit from the leeks. Leeks are grown in sandy soil and tend to collect grit no matter how well you clean them. I clean the cooking pot before returning the strained broth to be certain no sand ends up in my food.

While you are making the soup base combine the dried mushrooms and liquid in a microwave safe bowl and heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Allow the mushrooms to soak while the leeks are simmering. To use strain the mushrooms and cooking liquid to remove and grit and chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces.

Combine the leek broth, mushroom broth, mushrooms, and the other ingredients except the zucchini, cabbage and pesto. Simmer, partially covered until the lentils are tender. You may need to add more water if the soup gets too thick.

Fifteen minutes before you want to serve the soup add the zucchini and cabbage so they don’t overcook.

To make the pesto combine all the ingredients in your food process and process until you have a smooth paste.

To serve, top the hot soup with a dollop of pesto. The pesto adds a nice freshness to the soup since it is uncooked.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 234.73
Calories From Fat (25%) - 58.36

Total Fat - 7g
Saturated Fat - 0.62g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 109.66mg
Potassium - 950.41mg
Total Carbohydrates - 37.85g
Fiber - 9.16g
Sugar - 6.89g
Protein - 11.26g


Dan and I both love soup especially garnished with pesto so we enjoyed this. My parents also cleaned their bowls which I assume means they liked it. I added the lentils to this to give the soup a little body and make it more substantial. You could omit the lentils and serve this over cooked quinoa or millet if you wanted something different.

Like all soups and stew this will be better tomorrow after the flavors had a chance to marry overnight.

I used the white and light green parts of the leek to make crispy dehydrated leeks for soup and salad toppers. I started making these after reading that raw leeks inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the lab. Not one to wait for human studies, since it is just food, I have been adding these to our dishes where ever it seems appropriate.

Food since the last post:

For our late lunch with my parents yesterday I served the farmers’ market soup above and a big salad. In the salad I included 2 heads of shredded romaine, 2 grated carrots, 1 sliced cucumber, 2 heirloom tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, salsa to coat the veggies, 1 avocado, and some fresh herbs from my garden.

The soup and salad were so filling that Dan and I ended up skipping dinner. However Dan thought he needed “more calories” which is code for he wanted soft serve. He had two large servings of strawberry banana soft serve (again no oats) last night and I had a little in a coffee mug.


Our morning started this morning like normal at the farmers’ market. The weather was not as nice today. In fact it has been raining off and on for the last 8 hours. But we needed the rain so that works. I would just rather it would rain during the week.

At the market this morning I may have gone a little over board. We had to make a trip to the car in the middle of shopping to unload. That is normally a sign that I bough too much. Today I bought: 2 bunches of collards, 2 bunches dandelion greens, ½ pound fresh ginger, 1 quart of green beans, 1 huge leek, 9 heirloom tomatoes, 6 cucumbers, 3 bell peppers, 6 ears corn, 1 cantaloupe, 1 basket of peaches, 1 quart new potatoes, 2 pints blackberries and a huge box of Roma tomatoes to dry this week. While we were there we also picked up some produce for my parents like usual.

When we came back from the market we had a big bowl of fruit which included watermelon, diced peaches and blackberries.

The fruit didn’t seem to be substantial enough so we had a small bowl of leftover soup from last night.

For the mid day meal with my parents I am making balsamic and Dijon glazed tempeh, green salad with roasted tomatoes and third dish that is still up in the air. I will come back and share the recipe.

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend.


  1. That soup reminds me of when I did the cabbage soup diet (ha!) a couple of times during college summers. I always loved that soup. And that salad looks like a salad I could totally eat every single day. I've been so lazy in this heat this summer that we've only been to the farmers' market...once?! Crazy.

  2. Jenny,

    I have heard of the cabbage soup diet but somehow missed that one. ;-) Like you I love soup so that diet would have been a good one for me.

    Salad is another favorite of ours. I do variations of this salad quite often.

    Really, you have only been to the farmers' market once this summer? I go every Sunday and really miss it when it closes after Thanksgiving.


  3. I love soup, year round. Yours looks gorgeous!

  4. I can't wait until I can have soup again - as in the temps drop down below 90.

  5. JL,

    Thanks, we enjoyed it. Fortunately we have some leftover in the frig for lunch for a few days. ;-) I could eat soup and salad every day.


  6. Heather,

    Yesterday our high was 81 so soup worked. However on those 100 degree days I don't seem to crave it as much. ;-)

    I hope your weather moderates soon,


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