This soup is full of flavor. It has bright specks of carrot, red bell pepper, and parsley. It is about as fetching as a lentil soup can be. The recipe calls for an outrageous amount of garlic, and browning the garlic exaggerates the flavor. You could use less. (Just don't tell me!)
1 Tbsp olive or canola oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts) or coarsely chopped onions)
2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 large celery ribs, diced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, halved (if small) or quartered
2 cups dried lentil, picked over and rinses.
6 cups boiling water
1 1/4 tsp dried rosemary leaves
2 large bay leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 large red bell peppers, roasted, seeded, and diced
1/2 to 3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 to 3 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper for taste.
1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Cool the garlic over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown. Immediately add the leeks and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another minute. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, lentils, boiling water (stand back to avoid sputtering oil), rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes.
2. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 7 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally or use the quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. If the lentils are not quite tender, either return to high pressure for a few more minutes or replace (but do not lock) the lid and simmer until the lentils are done.
3. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the roasted bell peppers, parsley, just enough vinegar to bring up the flavors, and salt and pepper to taste.
For a more intense garlic flavor, omit the chopped garlic. After cooking, stir in 5 to 6 large cloves of roasted garlic that been pureed with 2 tablespoons of the roasted bell pepper.
Substitute black eyed peas for the lentils. Increase cooking to 11 minutes under high pressure.
After the soup is cooked, stir in some chopped kale, Swiss chard, or spinach and simmer until the greens are tender.
Puree the roasted red peppers and swirl a dollop of the puree into each portion of soup just before serving.
Use 2 cups of peeled, diced winter squash instead of the carrots.