Meatless Monday: Phil's Lentil Soup

Easy lentil soup with tomatoes, carrots and a little marjoram
This speedy soup makes a great supper on a busy weeknight.
Community cookbooks are a treasure trove of great recipes.  You can pretty much guarantee that anyone who submits a recipe to be published with their name attached will choose carefully. As a result these recipe collections contain everyone’s family favourites in 100 pages or less and almost always contain an overrepresentation of sweets. (I just flipped through one and counted 14 recipes for chocolate chip cookies and the dessert section is bigger than the salad, soup, vegetable and main dish sections combined.)

While finding some outstanding baking recipes is a given, don’t discount the main dish recipes offered in this sort of cookbook, although depending on the vintage of the book you may have to sift through a lot of cream of mushroom soup-based recipes to find the gems.
It was just such a cookbook that brought Phil’s Lentil Soup to my Mom’s kitchen. The book was compiled sometime in the 1980’s by wives in a remote RCMP detachment in what is now Nunavut, and made its way to my sister Martha and her husband, Phil. When they were first married Phil made the soup for my mom and dad and the rest is history. It was hand written into Mom’s big recipe binder and named Phil’s Lentil Soup because good recipes shared by someone dear to you assume that kind of an identity.
 

Phil's lentil soup

This is a slight adaptation of the original recipe (it didn’t contain garlic).
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can of tomatoes
  • 3 cups broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 t marjoram or thyme
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
In a good sized pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic and saute until soft. Add the carrots. Cover to let the carrots soften but stir often so nothing burns. When the carrots have lost their crunch add the tomatoes, broth and lentils. Give it a good stir (so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom) and let it come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer and let it cook until the lentils are soft (about 25 minutes).
Add the herbs, salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.
If you want to boost the vegetable content this soup is great with zucchini added, or greens like spinach or Swiss chard.

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