Judith Hausman
November 28, 2012
red lentils

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Red lentils will thicken up and add heartiness to this post-Thanksgiving, recovery soup.

Pies and stuffing, gravy and sweet potatoes … I needed to calibrate my appetite-ometer after the Thanksgiving feast.

If you have turkey broth, you already have a good start, but because I didn’t host this year, I didn’t have that valuable carcass for a comforting turkey soup.

When I surveyed my storehouse of local vegetables, however, there were plenty with which to create. If your collection is different, never mind — this is a flexible recipe.

First, I cut up the denser root vegetables I found, such as carrots, turnips and potatoes, and started simmering them in a cup of boxed broth. Use your homemade broth, or if you prefer, a vegetarian broth. I also sliced in a stalk of celery and a slim leek; use a small onion if that’s what you have, as well as and two cloves of garlic.

To add some nourishing heft to the soup, when the vegetables were still firm and needed about 10 minutes longer to cook completely soft, I added red lentils. Red lentils are handy because they cook so much faster than beans, even faster than green or brown lentils.

In my soup, the seasoning was ultra-simple but lentils can take on many different seasonings, such as curry, thyme or chili powder. Red lentils are usually also inexpensive. When they get really soft, I just used my trusty immersion blender and then thin the still-chunky puree with more stock. Chopped parsley or cilantro makes a pretty garnish, and if I had had some, cooked brown rice would have been a good add-in.

Soup’s on! Now, two weeks to get back in line before Hanukkah, and then Christmas eating.

Recipe: Thanksgiving Recovery Soup with Red Lentils

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 1 medium leek or 1 small onion
  • 1 stalk of celery (or 1/2 teaspoon celery seed)
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • up to 1 quart chicken, turkey or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cooked rice (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish (optional)


Dice all the vegetables and simmer them in about 1 cup of broth. Add the bay leaf. When the vegetables are still firm but somewhat softened, add red lentils and at least one more cup of broth. When both the lentils and vegetables are very soft (12 to 20 minutes), remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender to puree the mix to a texture you like, very smooth or quite chunky. Season and thin, to taste, with the remaining broth.


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