Perfect snowflakes did not flutter amidst a multi-colored tinted sky this morning, perhaps more like wet, collapsed renditions of their distant cousins absorbing the thin shine of soak lining nearby streets nearly before contact. The wind whipped up its warning that what we might have avoided in the unseasonably warm fall was no longer to be, the new boss is back in town to stay for a while, undisguised, often referred by the name, old man winter.
Whenever boss winter shows hierarchy in some blustering mood, I show my own type rebellion in the form of sustenance, steaming hot soup. Today’s Lentil Soup is typically hearty and if you have a notion towards Middle Eastern Cuisine you will be familiar with the commonly prepared concept of added fresh lemon juice and mint, if you are not familiar, this is a great time to settle the effects of old man winter and give a hot bowl of Lentil Soup with Lemon, Chicken, and Mint a try, you may even feel rewarded.
- 1 Whole Broiler/Frying Chicken, about 5 pounds, for soup stock
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped fine
- 1 Pound Lentils, rinsed and sifted through removing any potential pebbles or debris
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more according to taste
- Juice from One fresh Lemon
- 6-8 Sprigs Fresh Mint, leaves removed from stems then chopped
- Place whole broiler/frying chicken into a large stock pot filling with cold water about 3 inches above the chicken. Simmer chicken for about an hour or longer until fully cooked and tender. Remove chicken from stock pot and transfer to a large bowl or platter. When cool take skin off of breast and remove one chicken breast cutting from the center bone loosening from underneath. Cut breast into half inch bite size pieces and refrigerate until lentils are cooked. Use remaining chicken for another use. Strain chicken stock into a pot then measure 4 cups of the stock into a measuring cup for cooking lentils.
- On low heat add olive oil to a soup pot, cook the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and thyme until just softened, around five minutes, topple in the lentils, stirring well with the onion mixture cooking together for three minutes. Pour 4 cups of the chicken stock into the lentil mixture, increase temperature and bring to a boil before reducing the temperature and cooking on very low heat for about an hour stirring often. If the lentils begin to thicken add in more of the chicken stock one cup at a time. When lentils are soft and cooked, stir through the bite sized chicken pieces and salt, cooking another ten minutes. Pour in the fresh squeezed lemon juice and stir through. Check seasoning adjusting salt to taste. Fresh lemon juice may be added to individual bowls of soup rather than pouring directly into the soup, if preferred. Sprinkle fresh chopped mint into each bowl of soup immediately before serving. Garnish with sliced lemon and a mint leaf.