Much of the country is going through either a very cold and/or very stormy snap- us included (it was -8 here this morning!)- so it is of course the perfect opportunity for making a crock pot full of warm, hearty soup.
Since I slow-cookerized it, this particular soup is super easy to throw together- it's also very economical! It is vegetarian as well (unless you decide to use chicken broth), but it is not at all lacking in heartiness. Trust me, Hubby liked it. The beans and lentils are meaty, the broth and vegetables become almost creamy once blended a bit, and the smoked paprika...Well, you've just got to try it if you haven't. And if you have, you know what I'm talking about. You know it's a special spice when it's mentioned in the title of the dish. I mean, nobody's going to say, "Black Bean & Lentil Soup with Oregano," right? Just a whiff of the container and you'll know it's not your ordinary paprika. This is, well...smoked! And the smoky quality, both aroma and flavor, comes through very strongly in the flavor of this dish.
The leftovers were phenomenal, by the way! The flavors just seemed to meld and come together even better the second day when we had it for lunch. Bonus!
Black Bean & Lentil Soup with Smoked Paprika
adapted from Haystacks & Champagne
makes about 8 servings
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 larges stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika (not regular paprika!)
2 bay leaves
1 (14 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (you can use regular, but the fire-roasted variety really adds to the smoky flavor of the soup)
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and sorted
1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14 oz.) cans vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups water
2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until vegetables and lentils are tender.
Remove and discard bay leaves. Using stick or immersion blender, blend a few seconds or until consistency is to your liking (it should still be a little bit chunky). Note: if you don't have an immersion blender (although you most certainly should!), you can put about half the soup in your regular blender and blend until combined, but not completely pureed. Then stir into remaining soup for the same effect. This gives the soup a wonderfully creamy feel.
Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.