My Comfort Food

It was a few days ago when Penny asked me to list the three ingredients that I always have handy. Lentils, eggs and some sort of green”. I love all legumes. Love. Particularly lentils. Funny thing as one of my earliest childhood memories revolves around my mom sitting in front of me and a plate of lentils that I wouldn’t finish.

It has now became a staple in my weekly repertoire of meals. There are variations depending on what vegetables I have that day, but there is usually some chorizo in it.

“Can I have brown soup for lunch?”, J. asks. He has turned into a particular picky eater this year, but lentil soup or “brown soup” as he calls it is still one of his favorites with grilled cheese sandwich triangles.

It is one of my favorite leftover foods too. A drizzle of olive oil and some bread and I’m set.

This time of year, I cook hearty soups to keep us energized and warm. The abundance of root vegetables is perfect for this recipe. Lentils, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes… Anything goes.

So this is the recipe I chose for a PBS parents piece on favorite family meals that keep us connected to our childhood and roots. You can read the entire story here. Thank you Alice!

Lentil and Root Vegetable Soup

Makes 8 servings

3 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 turnip, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
¼ red kuri squash, peeled and diced
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 chorizo, sliced
1 qt chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup French lentils or any other kind you like
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 springs of thyme

Rinse the lentils and cover them with water. Let them soak for about 4 hours. It’s not completely necessary but I find that they cook faster and are better for digestion.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook them for about 5 minutes. We don’t want to caramelize them, just sweat them.

Add the tomato paste, chorizo and rest of vegetable and cook them for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, water, thyme, lentils, pepper and salt. Stir and bring this to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let the lentils cook for about 45 minutes until tender. Adjust seasoning to your taste and serve with your favorite gluten-free (or not) bread, cheese toast or plain.

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114 Responses to “My Comfort Food”

  1. emiko says:

    Beautiful and inspiring! Now I know what I’m going to make for dinner. Lentils are also the traditional New Year food in Italy – they are said to bring good luck and fortune ;)

  2. sweet road says:

    This looks so delicious and satisfying, props to staple ingredients!

  3. alice says:

    Delicious! Lentils are a true comfort food and I turn to them all the time for a good heart meal. I’ve converted my husband to them and now he asks for them all the time.
    Our favourite lentil recipe is for Dahl with lots of steamed rice, desiccated coconut and chopped banana.

  4. lentils are one of my childhood favorites too! aran the two last pictures are perfection, the depth in the both amazing!

  5. Isn’t it funny how things come full circle in life? For me, its beets. I would not think of eating beets as a child, and now have come to love them prepared in so many ways. Our “uncomfortable” childhood meals now bring comfort from nourishment, and memories. Lots of our Moms would be proud!!

  6. Food that makes me happy! Thanks!!!

  7. Maritxikis says:

    Feliz y Prospero Año, Aran!

    Thanks for this new lentil recipe, I was in need of a new variation for my weekly favorite meal. My two little ones love them too, at least for now. There is a vegetarian in the house, so unfortunately I will have to skip the tasty chorizo.

  8. Lovely! Happy New Year’s, Aran!

  9. Trina says:

    As a newly wed daughter to a Celiac father-in-law, I am in love with your blog! I have made several of these dishes already and he is raving about the results, especially the squash & hazelnut gnocchi! I noticed several of your recipes call for red kuri squash. I can’t seem to find this in our local grocery stores, is there a good substitute? Thanks!

  10. Roxy Te says:

    Oh I adore lentils too! So warm, hearty, and filling. Perfect for the winter chill!

  11. I adore legumes and lentils as well and am hoping to cook with them more in 2011.

    Thanks so much for the gorgeous post, tasty recipe and amazing photographs, as always!!

  12. Liz the Chef says:

    Wonderful post, photos and recipe – what’s not to like?! Thanks -

  13. this soup looks so healthy and satisfying, I’m also a fan of “brown soup” :)

  14. Lentils are one of my favorite comfort food as well. They make the perfect soup.
    Happy 2011 Aran! All the best to you and your family.

  15. Lentil soup is so comforting and scrummy! Yours looks and sounds wonderful.

    Happy New Year!



  16. Kaley says:

    My Spanish mother-in-law makes this alllll the time and I adore it. Adore. It’s so simple, healthy, and just plain good.

    My Spanish students, however, are always surprised to learn I love it so.

  17. Amelia PS says:

    keep exactly your same ingredients on hand, plus some sort of grain (brown rice, pasta or other) :)
    I have little one like yours who loves temporary tattoos too…and lentils!!! :)
    Bonne année et bonne santé!

  18. I love lentils, too. Especially in winter, they are perfect for an easy warming dish. Wienerwurst or some cabanossi are also great in lentil dishes.
    Have to make some soon again!
    And thanks again for your inspiring pictures!

  19. ButterYum says:

    In my book, lentils are one of the most perfect foods on earth. I love them, and your soup promises to please!


  20. Mariola says:

    Kaixo Aran! Las lentejas, la tortilla de patata y los huevos fritos con patatas a lo pobre son mis platos favoritos desde que me fui de España. Cuando vuelvo mi ama no hace mas que cocinarme estos tres platos!
    Feliz Año !!! Mariola

  21. Albota says:

    Nunca pensé que un estofadito de lentejas sería tan fotogénico! Feliz año! Zorionak!

  22. the boot says:

    here in italy they eat lentils all the time- not in soup form though, just simply cooked down until soft and then spooned over tiny-shaped pasta. glorious! i must make the soup for my in-laws, maybe they will convert!

  23. Lentils have always been a favourite of mine! I cannot wait to try this soup.
    - Vanessa Elizabeth

  24. The timing could not be more perfect.. I got a boîte of lentil de puy for Christmas and was just looking for a recipe… I think I found one! Thanks for a great blog by the way.

  25. Gotta say, lentils are so versatile and fantastic. That bowl is gorgeous!

  26. Shelby says:

    What a lovely recipe and story to accompany…I look forward to giving ‘brown soup’ a try! Happy New Year from TuTus & Tea!

  27. This looks like my kind of comfort food! Yum! :)

  28. Svet says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Svet says:

    I love lentils! Thank you for the recipe ;-)

  30. Nancy says:

    Lentils, eggs, greens must be a magic combination – my fridge usually contains lentil soup, a few hard-boiled eggs, and some washed kale or collards ready to be sauteed at a moment’s notice :) I love this soup recipe and must get some chorizo so I can make it!

  31. Rachel says:

    Bookmarking! Thank you so much for this – lentils are one of my absolute favorite foods and I tend to fall into a rut (red lentils with coconut milk or black lentils with caramelized onions). I’ll be trying this soon.

  32. Trina- red kuri has a very specific season so it is only available a couple of months out of the year. you could use butternut squash but it might be more watery so you will have to play around with the flour. red kuri has a chestnut like taste too. you could also use sweet potatoes.

    Mariola- jo que si!!

    Thank all and happy new year!

  33. this soup looks wonderful! it has some of my favorite vegetables – sweet potatoes and squash :) yum!

  34. lentil soup is a fave in our house too, veggie style for my hubby usually but i still dream of lentil soup with sausages! and it was squash for me with my mom (the frozen kind). i think i was sent to my room for not eating it! good old days. now i love it in every form.

  35. Oh yum! I just finished off my last scoop of my lentil soup. Aren’t they just so good? Gorgeous post, as per usual.

  36. Nicole says:

    This time of year I will take all the soup I can get. Love to just take what I have and throw it all in a pot and see what I get.

  37. Mine must have always been overcooked – and we were definitely not fed lentils as Canadian children… only after immigration laws changed and multi-culturalism happened did these start finding their way into restaurant soups… early 80’s… late 70’s. Well, that would be childhood for you – but, not me. I am really trying to incorporate more pulses into our family diet as it is so important. But, I only tolerate them. It is really hard for me.
    However, cooking with and for your child is what it is all about – and as they get older, I am sure more savoury dishes will continue to appear here… and that is fun, too!

  38. icicle says:

    My 4 yr old daughter is also enamored with lentil ‘broth’ as she calls it. She likes chickpeas too, so yet another legume fan here.
    Funny how ‘picky’ kids can like some of the more complex things that American adults consider more grown-up dishes. Perhaps it’s our European genes at work?

  39. Aran, this is beautiful; I love lentils and the combination with chorizo is just a killer! But recipe a part, I really like your photography and styling, very natural and seemingly simple, yet so fine.
    Ciao, Dario

  40. Usually my lentil soup is yellow -red, because I am so lazy I always use red, hulled lentils. I love the brown ones but usually make salads with them. I’ll have to beat laziness and make a proper brown soup. You son’s picture is the best advertisement ever to it :)

  41. Mary says:

    Love lentil soup and I need to try this, using the root veggies. Sounds and looks delish. Thnx for this recipe

  42. Your son is so adorable! I love your recipe. We used to BEG my mom for lentil soup as kids…always served alongside her famous pizza. It’s such an essential staple…

  43. Esti says:

    a mí también me encantan las lentejas, especialmente con un poquito de morcilla…

    y me encantan las “calcamonías” que lleva J en sus bracitos!

  44. Love all the root vegetables…such a hearty and colorful soup!

  45. And once more, you did it. You managed to make lentils look good, even sexy.
    Y tu nene está cada día más guapo.

  46. Esti- solo con leer la palabra calcamonias (o calcamunias como les digo yo) me ha alegrado la noche. jo, quye recuerdos… me acuerdo de los yogures y los cromos y pegatinas que traian. te acurdas de las de la abeja maya y don quijote? y los de bimbo tambien! mitico!!! eskerrik asko!

    I see everyone loves lentils. how could we not right? the perfect food. thanks all for your comments and sharing!

  47. giovanna says:

    Lentil…. I love it!! italian lentil are the bets! Have you ever tried Lenticchie di Castelluccio di Norcia? You should do it!

  48. Giovanna- no i haven’t and now i am completely intrigued!!! please tell me more. i will google them. do you know where i can find them in the US? thanks for introducing me to them.

  49. Although many feel they are torture to eat, I love lentils, too!! In fact, I blogged about them a while back– you should check out the recipe! (

    Your photo is lovely!

  50. Elin says:

    This is so healthy and I will make this for my Jo. She will loves it :) Thanks for sharing such a healthy soup :) Happy 2011!

  51. a. maren says:

    that is a darling picture of your son, and a beautiful looking soup! so perfect for winter. i think i’ll try it this week.

  52. Soups looks heavenly!! Perfect for this time of year!

  53. Aran, your comfort food is healthier than most people’s. I was expecting to see a post on mac and cheese or brownies when I read the title but I was surprised with a lentil soup. Good for you!


  54. Yet another lentil recipe to try at home. This is just perfect meal during the cold mornings… nutritious veggies with protein from chicken and chorizo are best for breakfast. Wonderful post!

  55. Isn;t it funny how the foods we hate as kids are the foods we love as adults? This soup looks lovely and hearty and perfect for winter evenings.

  56. Erica says:

    I was intriqued by the Italian lentil too, and found it here:

  57. merci pour toutes ces delicieuses recettes et magnifiques photos.
    meilleurs voeux pour 2011
    bises gourmandes

  58. I love all legumes too! What a great weekday meal.

  59. Agree with Katie! I do curse soups when I was a kid then but that changes when i grew up. The one you made is definitely comforting for this severe cold season. Glad you shared.

  60. Sini says:

    I have never really liked lentils. But maybe I should give them an other chance? It wouldn’t be the first time I learn to love something I disliked before. Actually I seldom say I don’t like some ingredients. Most of the time I say “I just haven’t ate it well prepared”.

  61. Suhmura says:

    Yummy! Looking sooooo good!

  62. Anonymous says:

    Ooooh yo tambien amo las lentejas!!todas…las normales de toda la vida, las verdes y las naranjas….
    Feliz año.

    Haces que unas simples lentejas se vean bonitas en tus fotos!
    Bso Carmen Zh

  63. Tamara says:


    I found your blog few days ago and I just love it! :)

    Thanks for your pics, your recipes and all your food-blog work! :)

    Please forgive my english! i’m from Chile in south america.. so i’m a spanish speaker.. :P

    Thanks again for your brilliant blog!


    Tamara :)

  64. Claudia says:

    beautiful images!I love soups in winter and this is very good. Happy new year!!!!

  65. shari says:

    The soup looks delicious, and I love lentils and parsnips! Do you prefer a specific type of lentils? Brown over green or pink? I never know which ones will be best in a recipe…

    I love your son’s fake tattoos. My Godson always has some on him, also. I think he gets it from his mom and I. Ha ha.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

  66. I don’t remember ever eating as much lentil soup or sweets as I have this winter, but this combination looks intriguing.
    I will try it out for sure!

  67. Jas. says:

    this looks absolutely delicious – will be putting on my winter soup rotation when the cold hits us in a few months!

  68. I just may have to make “brown soup” tonight. I love that kids sometimes like things like lentis but not more basic things you would think they would like chicken or cheese. I also love the “what 3 ingredient’ question. Mine would be avocado, jarred tuna, greens (copycat I am)…and hot sauce (ok 4).

  69. hhhmmm…!!! Nada mejor que un guiso de lentejas con chorizo!!! Poderosamente irresistible!!

  70. What an adorable photo of your son…
    I would look that happy to have this soup too :)
    Definitely a comfort dish.

  71. Querida Aran,

    Muchisimas gracias por la receta del Roscon!!! Lo acabo de terminar de hacer y la casa entera huele a fiesta y paz. Que mejor maneras de recibir a lo Reyes Magos?! Lo he acompannado con tu Spiced Chocolate Bisque, para que la gente lo remoje. Que maravilla, verdad!?

    Te agradezco muchisimo tu ayuda y espero que sepas que, gracias a ella, eres parte tambien de mi fista de Epifania! Estaras presentes con nosotros en este pedacito de hogar en Canada.

    Feliz dia,


  72. The Bird Cage- me alegro muchisimo! un abrazo.

    thanks all!

  73. Legumes are very versatile, and I could honestly have some sort of comfort soup every day…. I’m also a fan of Burdock, root vegetables, like Lotus Root, etc…

  74. g. says:

    gorgeous! lentilles du puy soup is a weekly staple in our house too. i’m always amazing how delicious and good for you it can be!

  75. Bean Soup says:

    I love the fall and winter, because it gives me a great excuse to make more soups! I love soups of every kind. Thanks for the recipe.

  76. Mireya says:

    I learned to love eating lentils as a young adult in Spain. Where I grew up in California no one I knew ate them. I’m glad to see that more people are enjoying them and benefiting from their nutritional value.

  77. Coco says:

    Beautiful and rustic Aran! Lentils are the only legumes we eat and I usually make a lentil stew or salad once a week! I love your recipe and the incorporation of the kuri squash, thank you!

  78. Aran…did you catch Molly Wizenburg’s recent lentil soup recipe in Dec. Bon Appetit? I think you’d like it. It’s kind of brilliant: you mix in pureed lemony chickpeas so it resembles a creamy lentil even though it’s not. It’s my new comfort food!

    Happy New Year.

  79. Your soup reminds me of the the lentil soup dotted with carrots and sausage that my French grandmother would serve on blustery days. Today, I often make lentils, and I look forward to trying your recipe soon. The weather definitely calls for a bowl of lentil soup!

  80. maria says:

    It looks and sounds wonderful, and makes me want to have soup for lunch today :) However I think my husband already decided on something else, he’s in charge for the cooking this week as I’m focusing on working.

    I want to wish you a happy and delicious new year, 2011!

  81. hello…beautiful pictures..n interesting recipes – congrats!:)

  82. un buen plato de lentejas, qué bueno!!

  83. I just picked up a bag of green lentils today. You’ve given me inspiration. :)

  84. Monica says:

    Me encantan las lentejas hechas con un puerrito, zanahoria, tomate y un poquito de pimentón.

    Un abrazo.

  85. Ana says:

    He llegado a tu blog por un amigo y me ha encantado.
    Tus recetas son estupendas y tus fotografías……… ojalá yo también hiciese fotografías así.
    Aquí me quedo para seguirte día a día.

  86. Shelley says:

    I am so excited to have found your blog. It’s wonderful. I love your photography and this meal is right up my alley!
    I hope you’ll stop by my blog and peek around. It’s relatively new.
    Looking forward to following your blog!! :)

  87. AnaVar says:

    Wonderfull recipe and your pictures… avesome. Thanks for sharing.


  88. Roberta says:

    ti ho conosciuta solo adesso e sei eccezionale! complimenti per la tua vita, le tue ricette, il tuo amore per le cose che fai.

    un abbraccio dall’italia :)

  89. Anonymous says:

    i’m having a bit of a lentil crush at the moment – this recipe sounds delicious! thanks, laura

  90. ibb says:

    Amaren lentejas datozkit gogora…beti berde gehiagokin…maite dizkiat..igual kalabazarena…probatu beharra…hozkailua tope diat…

    Gustoko ditut..mutil handiaren tatuai berriak, jajaja..zelan dihoan haunditzen.

  91. I´ve just found your blog, such a lovely work (recipes and pictures), I´ll show it to my husband , he is the cook in my house.

  92. Zerogluten says:

    Hola Aran,

    aparte de pasar muchas veces a deleitarme con tus recetas y fotografías, hoy vengo de propio para desearte a tí y tu familia un 2011 cargado de momentos inolvidables.
    Mil besos sin gluten.

  93. Healthy lunch and adorable photos :)

  94. Anna says:

    Nunca unas lentejas tuvieron tanto glamour!!!. me han fascinado tus lentejas y tus fotos. un beso.

  95. I love that you are using food rooted in this season, I think it makes sense that the food we can get our hands on in these cold winter months also sustains and warms us. The chorizo is also a nice touch, to add a touch of heat to our lives!

  96. Fiona says:

    Looks delicious – I’ll be trying this soon!

  97. Muffin says:

    wow – your food photos are amazing! I found you through Pinterest and I’m really enjoying looking through your blog. :) Beautiful!

  98. Legumes are delicious.. and yes healthy!

  99. Tabiboo says:

    Oh my word – we have the same cup.

    Though I far prefer the look of what you have in yours.

    Nina x

  100. Hi! I´m reading your blog for the first time. Your photos look amazing and I will definitely try out that soup!

  101. Cyn says:

    I love green lentil soup with spizy chorizo (or sometimes merguez, when I can get it). We’ve been eating this dish for a while. Even when my obstetrician suggested I stop eating it when I had heartburn problems in 2003, I couldn’t give it up.

    By the way, the leftover lentil soup (or stew, as I call it) makes a very good dressing or sauce for pasta. If needed, it can be thinned out with some broth, or with chopped or pureed tomato. We eat whole wheat organic pasta, but in your case you could pair the lentils with a pasta based on a non-wheat flour.

  102. Melissa says:

    I just made this for dinner using a variety of root veggies that I had available to me in Switzerland and it was lovely. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  103. Truly beautiful. I am working on a menu for a winter birthday party and looking for 3 hearty dishes in big tureens as my centerpiece, one stew, one soup, and one chili. This is perfect. Thanks.

  104. LondonEats says:

    Looks beautiful. Brown lentils and root vegetables in a thick soup are just perfect on cold days. Thanks!

  105. Your work takes my breath away. As a photographer I have complete appreciation for your photos and your recipes are wonderful. I feel like I can smell the food and the images are so good I want to reach in a grab a tomato. Cant wait for the book.
    I learned of you through Lena Hyde. I thank her for posting about you and sharing your amazing talent.

  106. I am going gluten free one week from today (we’re moving into a new house and I can’t ask current chef aka Mom to make me special meals). I can’t wait to try out many of your recipes, this one included.

    You mentioned doing a cleanse before – any particular type you recommend? I like the idea of teas and cutting certain foods, but not so much the juice-only and popping pills. Would love to hear your opinion on this.

  107. Kirstin- good luck with the new diet. no, i do not do cleanses that’s what i meant. that many people do but i have not.

  108. I made this last night. It was SO delicious. I used turkey kielbasa instead of chorizo and I can’t find Red Kuri Squash so I just doubled up the sweet potatoes. Thanks!

  109. Maral says:

    I have been craving a hearty, warm soup for some time now. I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious. I used sweet Italian sausage that gave it a really nice flavor throughout. A hit with my whole family who rated the soup a 10/10! Thanks for the great recipe.


  110. Wine Rack says:

    wow…beautiful blog site i like it.This looks so delicious and satisfying,but i hope peoples are like it.Thanks

  111. […] it is a bit daunting, but I ended up going with a lentil and root vegetable soup that I found on cannelle e vanille, a great food and photography blog. I chose this particular recipe as we had most of the […]

  112. […] stavolta avevo dimenticato che l’insalata tiepida del ricettario prevedesse le pere e il chorizo. Ho fuso quindi due ricette (tanto per cambiare :P!). E ho cambiato il condimento, il cosiddetto […]

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