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Lentil (and other things) soup - a quick question

I've got a bunch of things hanging about in the fridge and have decided to make a soup that will include lentils. I want the lentils to remains firm'ish and I'm not going to puree any of it. I was wondering if I should cook the lentils first and then add them to the soup at the end. It seems to me that this is the best way to go for the result I'm looking for. Yes? TIA.

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  1. Unless you want to precook the lentils in broth, I'd recommend just adding them to the soup pot once the "bunch of things" is well on the way to tender. The lentils won't take long - take the pot off the heat when they're still al dente since carryover cooking will finish them.

    1. I love lentils. I would make up the soup with whatever you are planning to use and add the lentils to the soup for the last part the of cooking time (until the lentils get to the texture you want). That way, they soak up some of the flavor from the broth and other ingredients. If you cook them separately, the overall flavor of the soup and lentils will not be melded together. Are you thinking soup with lentils or lentil soup?

      1. When I make lentil soup, I saute whatever size I choose (usually pretty chunky) for that batch of carrots and onions in olive oil until slightly tender, add the sorted lentils, enough broth or stock for the batch you're making, simmer until the lentils are to your liking.

        I don't find that the carrots and onions suffer from this method because the lentils cook quickly. But I don't know what other things you plan to add to the soup.

        The other things, if they're vegetables, may need to be sauteed separately and added at the end.

        1. I concur with Greygarious, CO. Get your soffritto going, add the water or broth, add rinsed drained raw lentils and seasonings. Personally,, I like a hearty lentil soup so don't puree as well. Also, I prefer using broth for more flavor.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            Thanks all. And I'm using lamb stock that's been in the freezer for a bit. That's what really drove the dish. So the lentils aren't going to soak up a lot of the stock?

            1. re: c oliver

              The lentils will cook in the stock. I find they don't soak up very much at all. You only need about a quart of stock for about 4 - 6 servings.

              1. re: c oliver

                They will absorb some flavor but will not become bloated and mooshy like noodles do

            2. You don't need to cook the lentils first, but (like with peas) you should soak them for about 3 hours prior to cooking. This will help them cook better and get some of the starch out.

              6 Replies
              1. re: acssss

                Hmm...Lentils are the one legume I never have need to soak - that's part of why I love them! Some varieties cook faster than others but they all are quite quick.

                1. re: meatn3

                  Has nothing to do with the quickness. If you don't soak them (which you don't HAVE to), there will be white foam on the top - (which is no biggie - you can always remove during cooking).

                  I always soak rice, lentils, peas, beans before I cook them. They come out with better texture IMO.

                2. re: acssss

                  Lentils don't need soaking. If you DO soak them, they will not retain their shape once cooked. I strongly disagree with the recommendation to soak *at all*, much less 3 hrs.

                  1. re: acssss

                    I disagree . Lentils do not need soaking and are likely to get mushy if soaked.

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      I'm not going to soak and I also don't want to get any starch out. I'm actually hoping for something thicker.

                  2. What kind of lentils? Green (french) take the longest to cook, about 45 minutes, but keep their shape well. Brown lentils take less time, about a half hour and also will keep their shape. Red lentils take about 15 minutes and tend to get a little mushy. I rinse the lentils well, but never soak.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Leslie

                      I save my wonderful French lentils for 'better' things. These are just your run of the mill brown ones. I appreciate that timing tip.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Do have any idea how long I've been cooking lentils? LOL No need to soak.

                    2. Hey c oliver, Ina Garten has a recipe online for lentil soup. Her suggestion is to cover them for 15 minutes with boiling water before adding them to the soup and then cooking them another hour in the broth.
                      I've found (BEWARE: I'm not a chef and not a lentil professional/expert), that letting them soak in cold water will reduce the starch in the soup, let them retain their shape better and enable less cooking time (because I like the vegetables in the soup to stay firm).
                      Of course, this thread is to enable various opinions, and then you make your own :-)
                      In any case, good luck!
                      This is how I personally do it and I don't intend on getting into any arguments with the regulars.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: acssss

                        HA! There seems to be a lot of that going around today :) Arguing that is. Currently I've got onion, garlic, fennel, carrot and a can of tomatoes going. 'Later' I'll add the lentils. Thanks all.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          The lentils will take a bit longer than suggested here, since you've got the acidic tomatoes to retard the tenderizing of the vegetables. But unlike beans, the lentils WILL get soft.