Before making this soup, I had never had lentils before. I had heard of them and knew what they were, but I had no idea how to cook them or what they tasted like or anything like that. I was curious about them, but Geordie had no interest in them. He’d had them before and had not been overly impressed with them.

So, when this soup was voted in for March, we had mixed reactions: I was eager to try something new, while Geordie was decidedly unexcited by the prospect. He agreed to try it though, which is one of the reasons I love him so much. Food-wise, there are only a few things he balks at. In truth, he’s less picky than I am, and he’s far more willing to try things that other people have cooked. Me, not so much. One of the reasons I got interested in cooking was so I could control what went into my food. I can avoid foods I don’t like and feel more confident about new foods because I handled and worked with them myself. If someone else had made this bowl of lentil soup and set it before me, I’d have been more reluctant about trying it. Simply knowing what’s going into a dish – even if I’m not sure if I’m going to like unfamiliar ingredients or combinations – makes it that much more approachable for me.

It helps that this is a pretty simple soup to make. Because of the lentils, it takes quite a bit of cooking time, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort. This is one of the reasons I love making soup: big payoff for a small amount of effort. Also, not as much cleaning. Just the Dutch oven. Nice.

The ingredients are few but promise so much in the way of flavor. It’s the addition of orange and ginger that make this soup so promising.

Simply made: carrots, chicken broth, French green lentils, and the seasoning assortment (orange peel, ginger, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns).

Simply made: carrots, chicken broth, French green lentils, and the seasoning assortment (orange peel, ginger, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns).

The carrots were sauteed a bit in some oil before everything else was added in. After this, everything just simmers for a while, until the lentils are soft.

The carrots were sauteed a bit in some oil before everything else was added in. After this, everything just simmers for a while, until the lentils are soft.

Although some of the other Doristas opted not to puree the soup, I did (as per the instructions). I like a smooth, creamy soup. Broth soups are okay, but they don’t rank among my favorites (except for Aunt Lynnie’s caldo verde, that’s an exception). It pureed magnificently, and it smelled terrific – the orange and the ginger were both clearly present. It made me wish it was a little colder outside – this would have been such a great soup for a cool, late-winter day.

[We’ve had temps in the 80’s this week. Spring seems to be settling in early. I don’t have a problem with this.]

Geordie cooked up some bacon to crumble over the soup. That and a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt was all the garnish this soup needed. And, of course, some homemade bread, but that’s a given in this house.

Orange-scented Lentil Soup, with a garnish of Greek yogurt and bacon.

Orange-scented Lentil Soup, with a garnish of Greek yogurt and bacon.

This surprised us both. I had no expectations whatsoever about this soup, and Geordie went into wondering what leftovers were available in the fridge (not that he said that out loud, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking it!). I enjoyed it from the first bite. The orange flavor is definitely there, and though I wouldn’t have minded a little bit more of it, it really brightened up the soup. The Greek yogurt added a nice tanginess, a lovely contrast to the deepness of the lentil flavor. The bacon gave it a delightful crunch. This was a hearty, filling soup, but it didn’t leave you feeling weighed down. I can understand why Dorie says that it’s a comfort food from childhood for the French. It seems to embrace the essence of winter, while at the same time wrapping its warmth around you, soothing away the dreariness of the season. It’s a soup that would make anybody feel right at home.

I have no complaints about this soup, and I’m certain I’ll be making it again at the end of this year. Geordie thought it was great and not only ate his entire bowl but also went back for seconds. He probably would have liked some ham with it, but he’s been saying that about nearly everything lately – I think he’s just getting anxious about Easter! At least this made him more open to trying other lentil dishes, because I have plenty leftover! I’m eager to see what else I can do with them.

Very much a success in this house! To see how the other Doristas enjoyed this warm, comforting soup, check out the French Friday links. Happy cooking!

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