French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme

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Now that winter has arrived, I’ve been enjoy making and consuming soup again. There’s something comforting about a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s night. This recipe is the best lentil soup recipe ever. I’ve adapted it from one in Veganomicon, a brilliant vegan cookbook written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero both of whom have a number of award-winning vegan recipe books under their belt. This recipe is pretty much the same as the one in their cookbook, the only difference being that I’ve replaced a cup of lentils with a cup of pearl barley. I’m very fond of pearl barley and I think it’s under-rated today. About 85% of the barley grown today gets fed to animals as feed rather than to humans.

Barley is very good for humans. There’s lots of evidence that it lowers blood glucose levels which is particularly good for diabetics. I can attest to this as when I was pregnant with Daniel, I had gestational diabetes. Consequently I had to take my blood sugar 6 times a day – before and after every meal. A meal of lentil soup with pearl barley lowered my blood sugar an hour after consumption. I never had to give myself insulin injections and managed the diabetes with diet alone. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and possibly even help with weight control.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
1 large carrot, chopped
5 tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
6 cups water or vegetable broth
1 cup French lentils
1 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 tsp salt
salt and pepper

Fry the onions and carrot for about 10 minutes until the onions have browned a bit. Add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, and paprika and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a splash of water if necessary. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the water, lentils, pearl barley, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, then cover and bring to a boil. (NB: there’s no need to soak the lentils and pearl barley first). Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered for about 45 minutes or until the lentils and pearl barley are soft. Add more water if necessary.

Tastes yummy with crusty bread for dipping.