SoupsNew & NowWinterEphemeraComfort FoodSo Hot Right Now

What 6 Food Writers Did With the Same Fill-in-the-Blank Soup Recipe

21 Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Have you played "It's _____ For Dinner" yet?

Our fill-in-the-blank, Mad Libs-style recipe outlines can help you (and, more fun, a group of your friends or co-eaters) to figure out what to cook based on the ingredients in your pantry or a flavor combination you've never tried.

Advertisement
Play This Game, Plan Your Dinner
+
Play This Game, Plan Your Dinner

To prove to you, and ourselves, that it not only works but works well, we asked six friends (uh, we want to be their friends—does that count?) to use our bare bones guide to lentil soup to come up with their own pantry (or dream) version of everyone's favorite winter warmer-upper.

Here's what Heidi Swanson, Michael Ruhlman, Julia Turshen, Joy Wilson (a.k.a. Joy the Baker), Laura Wright (from The First Mess), and Michelle Lopez (of Hummingbird High) put in their pots (almost everyone chose kale). And novelist Ann Hood wanted to play along, too!

Jump around using the links below, or scroll through to see them all:

Advertisement

Heidi Swanson's Sunny Yellow Lentil Soup (for Winter Days!)

Photo by Kyle Orosz
  • Sort and rinse 2 cups of yellow split peas.
  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a big soup pot, then add diced shallots and onions and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Sauté until soft and fragrant, then throw in chopped yellow carrot or parsnip and 2 to 3 tablespoons yellow curry paste and 1 tablespoon minced ginger. (Don’t forget salt and pepper!)
  • Now add the lentils and 2 cups of water plus 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk.
  • When the lentils are just tender (no mush!) and the vegetables are soft, add a couple handfuls of chopped lacinato kale.
  • Cook until wilted—just a minute or two—then sprinkle with lots of microgreens and chives and dollop with salted plain yogurt, crème fraîche, or a dollop of coconut cream.
  • Add toasted nuts and seeds for a textural contrast.

Michael Ruhlman's Lentil Soup (with Commentary)

Photo by Kyle Orosz
  • Sort and rinse Le Puy lentils (or beluga, but even the commodity lentils in the grocery store are nutritious).
  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a big soup pot, then add diced onion (the one absolute, but not from your fridge, nothing from your fridge at this point) and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Sauté until soft and fragrant, then throw in chopped celery and carrots (no need to throw in veg unless you’re cleaning out the fridge, keep green veg out, please) and espelette pepper and oregano and a bay leaf (hard herbs work here). (Don’t forget salt and pepper!)
  • Now add the lentils and water, water and water (some wine, sure. Please no College Inn “broth” or the like).
  • When the lentils are just tender (no mush!) and the vegetables are soft, add a couple handfuls of chopped scallions/chives/raw garlic and some spinach, arugula, or well-chopped kale.
  • Cook until wilted—just a minute or two—then drizzle/sprinkle "drizzle/sprinkle” isn’t right—at that point you’d want to say grate Reggiano over it, and dollop with anything creamy and crunchy like sour cream and fried onions, but you’ve already complicated it too much.

Julia Turshen's Red Lentil, Coconut, and Spinach Soup

Photo by Kyle Orosz
  • Sort and rinse red lentils.
  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a big soup pot, then add diced red onion and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Sauté until soft and fragrant, then throw in chopped carrots and cilantro stems. (Don’t forget salt and pepper!)
  • Now add the lentils and half coconut milk and half water.
  • When the lentils are just tender (no mush!) and the vegetables are soft, add a couple handfuls of chopped spinach.
  • Cook until wilted—just a minute or two—then take out cilantro stems and sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves and dollop with yogurt.
  • Add chopped curried cashews for a textural contrast.

Joy the Baker's French Lentil Soup with Buttery Croutons

Photo by Kyle Orosz
  • Sort and rinse French lentils.
  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a big soup pot, then add diced onions, carrots, and finely grated fresh ginger and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Sauté until soft and fragrant, then throw in chopped sweet potatoes and fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and ground cumin. (Don’t forget salt and pepper!)
  • Now add the lentils and chicken stock.
  • When the lentils are just tender (no mush!) and the vegetables are soft, add a couple handfuls of chopped kale.
  • Cook until wilted—just a minute or two—then sprinkle with lemon juice and dollop with Greek yogurt.
  • Add buttery croutons for a textural contrast.

The First Mess's Fiery Vegan Lentil Soup

Photo by Kyle Orosz
  • Sort and rinse French lentils.
  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a big soup pot, then add diced onions, carrots, and celery and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Sauté until soft and fragrant, then throw in chopped fennel and a spoonful of smoked paprika and dried tarragon. (Don’t forget salt and pepper!)
  • Now add the lentils and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock.
  • When the lentils are just tender (no mush!) and the vegetables are soft, add a couple handfuls of chopped chard.
  • Cook until wilted—just a minute or two—then drizzle with chili-infused olive oil.
  • Add sourdough croutons.

Hummingbird High's Lemony Yellow Lentil Soup

Photo by Kyle Orosz
  • Sort and rinse yellow lentils.
  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a big soup pot, then add 1 medium onion and 2 shallots, diced and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Sauté until soft and fragrant, then throw in 2 diced carrots, one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons of cumin and 1 teaspoon of curry powder. (Don’t forget salt and pepper!)
  • Now add the lentils and chicken stock.
  • When the lentils are just tender (no mush!) and the vegetables are soft, add a couple handfuls of chopped kale, stems removed.
  • Cook until wilted—just a minute or two—then sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, and pepper and dollop with crème fraîche.
  • Add fried shallots for a textural contrast.
How to Make Perfectly Crispy Fried Shallots—Without Flour

How to Make Perfectly Crispy Fried Shallots—Without Flour by Sarah Jampel

+
How to Make Chicken Stock Without a Recipe

How to Make Chicken Stock Without a Recipe by Jestei

+

Ann Hood's French Lentil Soup with Spinach and Red Wine Vinegar

What would you put in your lentil soup?

Tell us in the comments below (and share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #cookintheblank).