Creamy Lentil Soup with No Knead Bread

A bowl of creamy lentil soup with chorizo croutesNow that autumn has officially arrived and the temperatures have begun their anticipated decline, I keep thinking of different kinds of soup to keep me warm and happy. One of my guilty pleasures is watching cooking shows, primarily on the Cooking Channel. I could go on and on about why I prefer the Cooking Channel to the Food Network, but I will leave that for another post.
Anyway, one of the soup recipes that I have come to really enjoy is from Laura Calder’s show, French Food at Home. Her recipe for Cream of Lentil Soup with Chorizo Croutes (http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/cream-of-lentil-soup-with-chorizo-croutes-recipe/index.html) is fabulously simple, as long as you plan ahead just a little. I paired this soup with a loaf of Jim Lahey’s No Knead (aka No Work) Bread from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (p. 833 in the 10th Anniversary edition).
To combine these two recipes into a single meal, one needs to plan even more in advance, as the bread requires about 24 hours from the time the dough is mixed until it is hot out of the oven. The soup only takes about 3 hours, from the soaking of the lentils until it is steaming in a bowl on the table. What makes this soup work for me is the layers of flavor that come from the puree. The lentils provide an earthiness that the sweetness of onion and carrot complement so well. The juice of a lemon tempers the earthiness even more, resulting in a true balance of flavors. I think my favorite part of the soup is the hint of spice that comes from the thin disks of chorizo and the olive oil they infuse while transforming into crunchy meat croutons. These serve as a garnish for the soup.
No Knead Bread has become a regular recipe that I make at my house. When I found a bread recipe that requires such a small amount of effort and yields such a tasty result, I knew that I would never buy another “artisan loaf” from a grocery store again (if I have the choice). The problem for me has always been a general fear of baking (it is too much like chemistry) and a preference for the freedom that I can display when cooking on the stovetop or the grill. When I discovered that I can bake bread that tastes this good by simply mixing a couple of ingredients together and letting them sit in a bowl on the countertop for most of a day, I was amazed.
The smell of fresh bread takes me back to the time that I spent as an exchange student in France while earning my bachelor’s degree. I have difficulty controlling myself when there is a loaf of bread that is fresh out of the oven. Seeing the steam escape from the ubiquitous bubbles in a slice of bread before slathering it with butter or a spreadable variety of cheese means that I’m in for a treat. Getting the timing down so the bread is done baking when the rest of the meal is done is typically the most difficult part. If the bread gets done to much in advance of the rest of the meal, I cave and begin eating it, thus spoiling my appetite for the rest of the meal.
A loaf of No Knead Bread
Being able to restrain myself on this occasion, I was rewarded by enjoying a nice bowl of soup with a slice of the fresh bread. I even sopped up the end of my soup with the thick, crunchy crust of the bread.
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One Response to Creamy Lentil Soup with No Knead Bread

  1. Jess says:

    We love that no work bread too. I was intimidated by baking bread initially too, but that recipe makes it so easy. The little popping sounds when it comes out of the oven is probably my most favorite sound ever.

    The soup looks yummy too, especially with the addition of chorizo. Once it gets a little colder here, maybe I’ll give it a try.

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