A Traveler's Lentil Soup
Before catching the Rigi Bahn up the mountain last night, there was a quick stop at the local market in Vitznau. Grabbing just enough to pull dinner & breakfast together before the second glass of rose was poured and the sun had set.
Below are some words pieced together about how I make lentil soup. It's less of a recipe and more of a guided bit of suggestions. The Airbnb hostess picked a large cutting of rosemary and handed it across the fence. A perfect addition to the pot of veggies cooking in the kitchen.
This recipe is hugely forgiving – I walked away copious amounts of time to watch the weather pattern changes over Lake Lucerne and it still turned out perfectly.
However, you go about it, serving this inexpensive rustic soup served with local cheese, bread, butter, and a chilled glass of wine might just be your best travel secret yet.
The Travelers Lentil Soup
- 2 small onions, peeled and sliced
- 3 carrots, washed & diced
- Dash of oil or butter
- 2 cubes of bouillon (I like chicken, but you could use vegetable bouillon as well)
- 8 cups water
- 1 small head of green cabbage, chopped
- 2 cups lentils
- Chorizo (optional) – diced and pan-cooked
- A handful of rosemary (or thyme could work well), chopped
- Salt, to taste
- Lots of pepper, to taste
- Splash of white wine vinegar
In a stockpot, heat the oil (or butter) and toss in the onion and carrot. Cook over medium heat until the onion begins to brown and the carrots pick up a bit of that brown color. This is a good flavor stage, so don’t rush this step.
Once you have your veggies where you want them, add the chopped cabbage. You could skip the adding of cabbage, but I prefer you leave it in! It’s a great source of Vitamin K & C. Once the cabbage is in, Add the bouillon cubes and water. Alternatively, you could use premade stock…bouillon just works well when on the go.
Cover your pot and bring the water up to a slow simmer. Let the veggies and broth start doing their soup-making magic for about 30 minutes. Again…there’s wiggle room here. Just make sure your cabbage has liquid to swim – if you look in the pot and the veggies have absorbed all the broth, add a bit more water.
Add the lentils and recover the pot. Simmer. As the lentils cook, if you are using chorizo or similar sausage, cook that in a pan with a splash of oil until it cooks through and begins to crisp up a bit. Add it to the simmering soup. Add rosemary.
After about another 30 minutes, taste the soup. You’re checking not only to see if the lentils are cooked through but also to start figuring out what your taste buds are wanting in terms of salt & pepper. Your bouillon has already brought some salt to the dish – so I’d start with adding pepper first. Then more salt if need be.
Lastly, just when you think you’ve perfected your lentil soup, add a splash of wine vinegar. May sound a bit odd, but trust me…its just the touch it needs. If you don’t have any on hand, a little splash of lemon juice could do the trick. The acid really brightens the whole dish as it's time to eat.
My favorite way to eat a hearty peasant soup like this is with a rustic loaf of bread, slathered with a generous amount of butter and a nice wedge of mild, hard cheese. Red wine is always a good choice, but in the heat of the summer, a chilled rose is heaven.