It’s that time of year when soup is so often on the menu. Craving mushrooms, I came up with this nourishing soup that includes peppery Puy lentils for depth and substance, green kale for some extra earthy flavor, sun-dried tomatoes and a jalapeño for some tang and just a little heat … and, of course, mushrooms. This is a bold full-flavored soup that comes across as equally elegant as rustic, depending on how you look at it, but it is quite simple enough to serve as a delightful hearty lunch with some crusty bread. It is also a good choice for dinner, and I served it up with some pearl barley cooked in vegetable stock.
French Lentil Soup with Mushrooms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kale
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or reserved sun-dried tomato and dried mushroom soaking water
2/3 cup coconut milk
4 stalks of kale, trimmed and chopped
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Rinse the lentils and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking water to use as a broth if desired. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and sauté for 5 minutes until softened. Toss in the jalapeño, garlic and thyme, and stir for another few minutes. Add the mustard powder, stir once, and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, dried mushrooms, vinegar, tamari, stock or reserved soaking water, and coconut milk. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the lentils and add a few handfuls of chopped kale at a time until slightly wilted. Add more water or stock if necessary to achieve your desired consistency. Stir in the salt and black pepper and taste for seasoning.