This week, the humidity left the air, the temperatures at night began to fall back down below 70, and my annual excitement for the return of Autumn has left me pumped for pumpkins, casual jackets, and apple cider!! Fall is hands-down my favorite season, packed with the best of Summer’s thunderstorms, Spring’s tranquil temperatures, and the heavily-spiked ciders of Winter – Not to forget the colors of the trees, the return of AC-free electric bills, everybody starts wearing an acceptable amount of clothing again, and the general buzz of excitement and uncertainty as kids and adults alike get ready for another school year.
In order to celebrate the re-opening of windows and nights spent sweat-free on the porch, today I made a cool-weather stew that is filling but not too heavy (since it’s not really that cool yet). This is a low and slow soup with a short ingredients list and a big flavor pay-off. Tonight, I’ll say goodbye to Summer with one last battle with my charcoal grill, but for lunch, this soup is a comforting bowl of Fall food awesomeness. The picture doesn’t do the layered flavors of this stew justice. I guess if you want to make it look prettier, you could use red lentils, but I personally like green lentils better in soups because they hold their shape where red lentils tend to disintegrate (and then I can’t see what I’m eating). If you want to make it look a little fancier, I really like a small bunch of toasted almond slices on top (plays well with the hint of smokiness the caramelized onions give too).
Caramelized Onion and Lentil Stew:
- Big stainless steel soup pot with lid, large saucepan, wooden spoon, knife, cutting board, stove top
- 2 large yellow onions, slivered into half-moons
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2-3 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 1/3 cups lentils
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Warm the stock in the saucepan over medium heat. Keep it warmed (or just barely simmering).
- Drizzle a Tbsp or two of evoo in the bottom of the soup pot and warm it over medium heat. Add the slivered onions and saute 3-5 mins. When you notice the onions are translucent, add the thyme and the red pepper flakes. Continue to saute the onions over medium or medium low heat until they are a rich golden brown and thoroughly softened, or 15-20 mins. If you’re worried they’re burning, don’t be afraid to lower the heat! The name of the game with this stew is low and slow. Stir frequently to prevent burning the onions or spices, and to keep the bottom of the pot from getting crusty.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add the chopped garlic, and cook about 1 minute. Then add the warm stock, lentils, and rice to the pot. Cover and let simmer 30-40 mins, or until the rice and lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you used good stock, the soup should have a nice depth of flavor (not be flat at all) and shouldn’t need more than a big pinch or two of salt.