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Oven-Dried Tomato and Lentil Soup

Oven-Dried Tomato and Lentil Soup
If you are lucky enough to have a vegetable garden that yields a big tomato harvest, you can dehydrate the excess in the oven as directed in this recipe and use them later in soups and stews. The tomatoes taste best if they are still a bit moist and pliable when dried. Store any you don't use in the freezer. They will keep for up to 3 months.

Ingredients:

  • 6 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 6 cups rich vegetable stock or canned broth
  • 1 lb. red new potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 250°F. Place the tomatoes, cut sides up, on a rack set on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the oven for about 2 hours. The tomatoes will dehydrate and intensify in flavor, but should still be a little soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, pick over the lentils and discard any misshappen lentils and stones. Rinse the lentils. Place in a bowl and add water to cover generously. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the stock, drained lentils, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils and potatoes are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

Add the reserved tomatoes and the rosemary and continue to simmer, stirring gently to retain the shape of the tomatoes, until the flavors have blended, about 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into warmed bowls and serve hot.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Vegetarian for All Seasons, by Pamela Sheldon Johns (Time-Life Books, 1998).