I combined a couple techniques from various parts of my culinary files within my head & one thing led to another...a creation was birthed. I liked the idea of adding tomato paste to my mirepoix (diced up carrots, onions & celery) and cooking it to create a depth of flavor. It reminded me of one of my favorite creamy tomato sauce recipes from Cooks Illustrated. I added red wine & saffron as well to create more than your run of the mill lentil soup (remember I was going for a stew here). After more little tricks, I would say I created one heck of a dish.
This is also a perfect Monday night, winter is here & we're trying to eat semi-healthy in the holiday season sort of meals. Serve with some crusty bread and you're eating like the peasants who served the king (because really the peasants ate more healthily anyway...just look at history).
French Lentil Stew (printable recipe)
You could easily use all vegetable stock for this and it would be just as great, or use beef broth for an added depth of flavor.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 celery, small dice
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 1 carrot, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- pinch of saffron
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes
- 2 carrots, peeled & sliced into 1/8 inch circles
- 1 leek, thoroughly cleaned & chopped
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups french lentils
Have your onion, carrot, celery & garlic mise en place via diced. Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Add mirepoix and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic & salt and stir. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes, till onions are soft & mixture is fragrant.
Add leeks & carrots, cook an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring to pick up browned bits.
Add saffron & tomato paste. Stir and increase heat to medium-high. Continuously stirring to cook tomato paste for about 1 1/2-2 minutes to deepen color of the paste. Add wine & cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add the stewed tomatoes.
Add both vegetable & chicken stock. Stir to combine. Add your french lentils & lower heat to medium. Cook for an additional 30-45 minutes. Adjust flavoring with sea salt & pepper. Serve with the remainder red wine & crusty bread.