A Spring Chill in the Air & French Lentil Soup

My favorite fall or winter lunch is big steaming bowls of soup. I usually invite people for around 12:30 and have two hearty soups like shrimp corn chowder and lentil sausage soup, which can be made a day or two ahead.
Ina Garten

So maybe, just maybe we have experienced the last winter kick and perhaps the last of the French lentils soups for the winter and now look forward to trying out a few lentil salad recipes. Pot luck pot’o lentils the perfect dish for a busy day and my once-a-week veggie bin cleanout…

I was watching a short preview of Jacques Pepin’s thoughts on a quick soup with what he had on hand at the time and while I admire simplicity. I prefer using a hearty stock instead of water so I started with 4 cups of chicken stock from the freezer and grabbed the canister of French lentils from the pantry. While I didn’t exactly stay within Jacques’s time frame, I think that he said soup in 15 minutes, whereas I served within 30 minutes thanks to the Instant Pot.

Besides the 3/4 cup of lentils a few herbs, seasoning spices, and a few veggies I rendered and crisped up about 6 ounces of pancetta, reserving a little of the crispy bits to top off the individual bowls of soup.

Today’s soup ingredients:

3/4 cup French lentils
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large shallot, diced
1 small leek, cleaned and diced
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup white wine
2 plum tomatoes, large diced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon homemade sausage seasoning
salt and pepper
6 ounces diced pancetta rendered at low heat until crispy, remove some crispy bits for garnish if you like
*Optional smoked sausage slices, Italian sausage slices, or diced applewood smoked bacon

I normally render pancetta over low heat until crispy…once you have rendered fat in the bottom of your Instant Pot turn up to normal heat, add 2 tablespoons of EVOO, shallots, carrots, celery, leek, and sauté until softened. Toss in the garlic and stir in for another 30 to 45 seconds. Deglaze the pot with white wine and allow to cook for another minute or two. Add the lentils, tomatoes, stock, and any of your favorite lentil soup seasonings (I used some of my homemade sausage seasoning and vegetable magic).

Set the IP to manual high 15 minutes. When time is up allow the pressure to come down normally for 10 minutes and open the vent to further remove the pressure. Taste for seasoning, serve hot with shaved parmesan for garnish.