German Lentil Soup

My husband has had more surgeries on one knee than most people have in a lifetime! When he was released from the hospital following the latest surgery last week, I asked him on the drive home what he wanted for dinner that evening. I was not surprised when he promptly replied “lentil soup!” He needs a high protein diet for healing, and our lentil friends help with that. This soup pot has bubbled on our stove many times over many years, and the whole family loves it. In a 1963 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook which has kept company with us all 47 years of marriage, I find the recipe that ours evolved from with the notation that Joe made it the first time on February 4, 1973.  We have made it different ways since then, and never by the book… but always the finishing touch is squeezing fresh lemon slices over the steaming bowls of soup. Delicious with a slice of cornbread!  This tastes even better the next day.  Just be sure to serve fresh lemon when you reheat.

1 lb lentils

1/4 lb. bacon, diced

2 medium onions, chopped

2 quarts water

4 celery ribs chopped

3-4 carrots, sliced

1 smoked sausage link sliced into rounds (Kielbasa is good)

2 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tsp dried thyme (I prefer Penzey’s French Thyme)

2-3 bay leaves

1 large potato, peeled and grated

2 lemons quartered

In large soup pot, saute bacon until golden brown.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Then add lentils, water, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves.

Grate potato into pot. Simmer, covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until lentils are tender.  Remove bay leaves.  Serve in large soup bowls with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.

The soup ladle pictured belonged to my Daddy, who owned the Bus Station Cafe in Jacksonville, Texas when I was growing up.  He didn’t cook by the book either.

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