We just moved to a new apartment here in Germany. It is only a few miles from where we used to live. It is large and sunny, with two bedrooms and a balcony, on a quiet dead end street within walking distance to stores and the central part of town. It has been a busy week. We are still unpacking. Anna is still getting used to her new home. And I am still getting used to the one drawback of our new apartment… a smaller kitchen. My first venture in our new kitchen space was this lentil eintopf, or stew, that I made yesterday. I had a bag of black lentils that I had been meaning to use for a while now and they made their way to the front of the pantry after the move so… I decided to make a lentil soup. With the weather warming up I wanted to use a fresh herb in the soup that would also pair nicely with the lentils. Since I now have two very large planters which form the perimeter of our balcony I am very excited to fill them with plants and herbs that I can use in my kitchen now that we are moving away from those chilly days of winter. We live near a gardening center now too, how very convenient for me *smile*, so I picked up some parsley and thyme there to start our new herb garden here at home. I recently read a post about a lentil soup that used thyme in the recipe and was inspired to do so as well. Thyme has always been a favorite of mine, all the way back to when I was in grade school. I have fond memories of my childhood school-days when I was in first grade and we would play outside during recess. On those warm and sunny spring days I would often sit on the grassy field at the perimeter of the playground which was mowed very short and pick the grass and dandelion leaves that were left behind. Me and my best friend Kate loved to pull the fibers in the stems of the leaves as far down to the wide leafy vascular tips as we could without them breaking off before we reached the end. We also loved the smell of the grass where there were enormous patches of low lying, fluffy greens that smelled just like our favorite food in the world at that time, pizza! It was fun to run our hands back and forth over the tightly mowed beds of “pizza grass” and stir up the wonderful scent of wild thyme.
Black Lentil Eintopf with Fresh Thyme
500 grams black lentils
*800-1200 ml of chicken stock (alternately vegetable stock can be used)
*400-800 ml water
2 small onions or 1 large
2 large carrots or 3 medium
5 celery stalks
1 large parsnip or 2 small
1 bunch of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
*I used a total of 1.6 liters (or 6 1/2 – 7 cups) of liquid in the soup: half stock and half water. These proportions can be altered to add more or less stock or water.
Sort through the lentils and set aside. Chop the onion and cut the rest of the vegetables into small bite sized pieces. Coat the bottom of a dutch oven or large soup pot with olive oil and heat on high. Add the vegetables to the pot when the oil is hot. Stir and saute the vegetable mixture until slightly softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the broth and water and stir in the lentils. Add the bay leaves and simmer on medium heat for about an hour stirring occasionally. Add any where from 1/2 to 3/4 of a bunch of fresh thyme, stems in tact, and cook for an additional 1/2 to 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste. If the stems of the thyme are tender enough, as mine were, they can be eaten. If not you can remove them from your plate once served. Garnish with additional sprigs of fresh thyme.