I really hate rainy days. Maybe as a teenager it is romantic to snuggle up with a book or your boyfriend and watch the raindrops slowly slide down the windows, but with three kids in tow and another one in the oven, rainy days only bring the scary inner-monsters out (and not just in the kids).
There is nothing like a beautiful, breezy sunny day to lift my spirit and nothing like a gloomy wet day to dampen my whole outlook on life. A few weeks ago, we had more than our fair share of rain in Columbia and though much less devastating, but the wet weather continues from time to time.
Since I cannot do much about the storms, I shall have to adjust my attitude, because that is something I can have some control over. I am on the lookout for anything to lift my mood and help me be able to show more patience toward my similarly struggling kids. We have a wonderful post already on the blog on rainy day activities and I highly recommend checking them out. But beyond fighting off boredom and cabin fever, when I feel super gloomy, I also really crave comfort foods.
So when it rains, that means … soup!
I am from Hungary and the custom there is to eat soup with your main meal of the day. Of course, it isn’t always very hearty, many times a light broth with veggies or cold fruit soup during the heat of the summer, but nevertheless we eat soup often. It also happens to be my favorite, number one comfort food when I feel sick, sad or gloomy. When I crave something hearty, I make the lentil soup that I loved since I was a little girl.
Try it, and see for yourself how delicious it is!
Hungarian Lentil Soup
Serves 4 (can easily be doubled)
1 c lentils, rinsed (optional: soak overnight for faster cooking)
3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, halved for easy removal (optional, but gives great flavor)
2 potatoes, diced small
3 tbsp flour (all purpose or gluten free all purpose)
2 tbsp oil or solid cooking fat
2 garlic cloves, peeled but whole
1 tbsp of Hungarian paprika (aka sweet paprika)
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 big bay leaf (or couple of smaller ones)
First, measure and rinse lentils.
Put the lentils in a pot and cover with water, about 8 cups. Add garlic cloves and bay leaf and boil the lentils till almost completely tender, about 15-20 mins after the water starts to boil. (if you soaked them, it will take about 10 mins, and they will absorb less water)
Meanwhile, prepare a roux. If you have never made it, don’t be intimidated, it’s fairly easy. A roux serves the purpose of giving the soup a little bit of thickness as well as extra flavor. The smell of roux cooking is a childhood memory and I love it! Grab a small frying pan and warm the oil. Add the flour and mix well. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring very often, until the roux is the color of breadcrumbs.
When it’s done, take it off the heat and stir in 1 tbsp of Hungarian paprika and 2 tbsp of finely chopped onion. The hot roux will fry the onions slightly and be crumbly and thick. That’s okay. Place your roux in the sink or somewhere else to cool. You have to cool it in order to be able to add it to the hot soup, otherwise it will thicken too quick, making a big lump instead of dissolving into the soup.
When the lentils are ready, add in salt, pepper to taste, the chopped carrots and parsnips, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add in chopped potatoes and simmer until all the veggies are tender. Make sure you have enough liquid but not too much. This kind of depends on personal preference, some like a thicker soup, some like more broth.
Once everything is tender, add the roux to the soup whisking it very well, making sure that there are no lumps. (If you cooled your roux and use a wire whish, this shouldn’t be a problem).
* If you want to add meat, it would be a good time to do it now. Since Hungarian sausage isn’t readily available, I would recommend adding fully cooked chorizo or polish sausage, cut in small pieces.
Let the whole soup come to a boil one more time, stir it for a couple of minutes and you are done! Check for saltiness and if you find it too thick, a little water can also be added. Serve with sour cream and crusty bread or cornbread. For a little spice, hot pepper flakes are excellent on top. Enjoy!