Sunday, January 23, 2011

Comfort in a bowl -

Comfort in a bowl -
Special to The Star

Michael Smith’s Lentil and Parmesan Soup
Executive chef Michael Smith, owner of restaurants Extra Virgin and Michael Smith, enhances the humble flavor of lentils with Parmesan cheese. He suggests serving this soup piping hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil on top, plus garlic-Parmesan crostinis.

Note that the Parmesan broth requires advance preparation time. Combine 4 ounces Parmesan cheese with 2 quarts water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer for two hours. Strain the broth and reserve.

Peel and dice 1 yellow onion, 1 medium carrot and 1 parsnip into 1/4-inch cubes. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil to a large pot and heat over high flame until the oil starts to smoke.

Add diced vegetables and cook 5-7 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 cups rinsed brown or green lentils, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon tomato paste. Stir for one minute. Add reserved Parmesan broth and bring to a boil.

Simmer slowly until lentils soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding water as necessary. The lentils will absorb most of it as they cook. Take out the bay leaves and thyme before serving.

The soup as shown here is garnished with a jicama-cucumber-tomato relish, parsley and homemade potato crisps.

Pete Dulin is a freelance writer in Kansas City.

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