Sunday, April 6, 2014

Blogoversary 4: Spicy Lentil Soup

Well, HELLO THERE! Today is my 4th anniversary for The Chef Doc.  Four years.  That's an entire high school career, some people's collegiate career... four years.  A lot has happened in four years.  I remember during those first couple of years I would write my weekly posts sitting in B.C.'s Tavern in-between classes at UCI.  Golly, those were the days. 

Unfortunately, I don't feel like I have that sort of freedom anymore, if that makes sense.  A lot has happened in the last six months, of which you will notice a sad absence on here.  Will you believe it if I told you that school took over my life?  No joke, it did.  However, I am happy to report that I've been receiving straight A's and slowly rediscovering all things not related to academics.  

I am currently in Spring Quarter of my second year of grad school.  I am hoping that it will be fairly easy-peasy and relatively stress-free.  Last quarter was definitely not like that.  It was the most stressful quarter I have ever experienced in my life.  On top of taking 13 units--racked up with projects, presentations, volunteering, group work, and tests galore--I was applying to dietetic internships.  Now that in of itself is a stressful process of sending transcripts, obtaining writers for letters of recommendations, waiting for the letters to be written and uploaded, personal statement writing, supplemental applications, and most importantly--meeting the deadlines!  Add schoolwork to that and you have a nutty quarter.  I'm happy to say that I survived it and today is actually the day that we find out if we have been matched.  I'm crossing my fingers!

Throughout this crazy time I have been cooking some.  Not as much as I would have liked but some, nonetheless.  And lentil soup has become my thing!  I've never been a fan of soups that are straight-up liquid; I need "stuff" in my soups.  And all the lentil soups I have ever had were just liquid or made me go, "Where are the lentils?"  Thus, I created a soup that has chunks of wonderful ingredients and you know that you are eating lentils!  

This lentil soup is so easy to make and it's nutritious, healthy, simple, affordable, and super-duper delicious with a little kick.  I add spicy hot Italian sausage to mine, but you do not have to.  This recipe can be easily made vegetarian by omitting the meat as well as the chicken broth, which can be substituted with vegetable broth or plain water just fine.  I have made a few different versions of this soup, but I think I like this one the best.  In others I have added diced potatoes as well as fresh thyme.  You can't go wrong with any of them ;-)

I'm looking forward to posting more delicious, scrumptious, and chatty posts for you in the near future :-)  In the last six months, lots of birthday cakes have been made (a few of them smash cakes), as well as perfecting recipes.  Ooh, I am so excited to share these with you! 

Spicy Lentil Soup
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 4 to 5 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 package hot Italian or hot turkey sausage (usually five in a pack)
  • 2 cups (1 pound) green lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken broth
  • 3 to 5 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few shakes of dried basil
  • a few shakes of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional:
    • Cayenne pepper
1. In a large pot, add a few swirls of olive oil and turn the heat onto medium-high.  Remove the sausages from their casings and add to the pot.  Break apart the sausage into bite-size pieces and cook until no longer raw.  Remove the sausage and save the oil.

2. Add the onions and carrots along with a large pinch of salt and lots of black pepper.  Cook until the onions are slightly softened.  

3. Next, add your celery and garlic.  Then, add the lentils.  Mix everything around and add your chicken broth and three cups of water.

4. Add the bay leaf, dried basil, and dried oregano.  Bring pot to boil and then reduce to simmer.  Place a lid on top, leaving a little opening, and cook until lentils are fully cooked.  

5. If the soup is getting to thick on you, add another cup or two of water.  *Personally, I prefer it more soupy than stewy.*

6. When the lentils are finished cooking, mix the meat back into the soup.  Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, if necessary.  At this point, if it isn't spicy enough, add a shake or two of cayenne pepper.  Fish out the bay leaf and discard.

7. Serve warm!  

*As the lentil soup sits, it will thicken some more, especially the next day.  I simply add a little water to thin it back down to the consistency that I like.*

Break up the meat into bite-size pieces.
Save this now-seasoned oil for the rest of the cooking.
Onions, carrots, celery, and garlic = DELICIOUS!
I use the regular green lentils that you can find in any store.  I've yet to try the other kinds of lentils but am excited to!
The dried herbs.
I'm not kidding when I say bring it to a boil.
After cooking for awhile, you will notice the soup level has gone down and the lentils have plumped up a little bit.  They shouldn't have any sort of a bite when you try them, i.e., no al dente here!
Do not add any seasonings until after the meat is mixed back in since you want to see what flavors the meat imparts to the soup.
Enjoy this bowl of comforting and delicious spicy lentil soup!


  1. omgoshhh! I am sooo so excited to give this a try! Thank you so much for writing a new post, and happy 4th birthday to your blog, Hester! <3

  2. You must be close to graduating just like my daughter. I remember you two started about the same time, I think I started blogging the same as you too. Happy 4th and hoping you get a break soon, I know how exhausted my daughter is. Wishing you well.