The other day it was chilly outside (read: freezing!) and Mr. S wanted to know what was for dinner. After spending 20 years together, there are some things we do in unison without ever thinking about it. We both said at the same time we wanted soup for dinner. A bag of lentils in the pantry along with Italian plum tomatoes and a need to use the Parmesan rind all screamed soup. Lentil soup is an easy meal to make and their meaty texture will leave one feeling quite satiated.
If you’re like me, I never knew what to do with the remnants of Parmesan cheese rinds other than tossing into the garbage (I can hear nonna’s all over shuddering at the thought). It was while we were living in New York, surrounded by Italians or so it seemed, that I learned about freezing the rinds for future use in soups (minestrone), simmered in tomato sauces, or in a broth. Think of any slow-cooked dish where a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese would be welcomed and toss in the Parmesan rind.
- 1¼ cups green lentils, rinsed
- good splash of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 to 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped (keep juice)
- Parmesan rind
- 1 to 2 cups water
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- lime wedge
- handful Italian parsley, chopped
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the chopped onions, celery, and carrots. When onions are soft, add garlic and cumin. Stir and cook until garlic becomes aromatic then add tomatoes with its juice and lentils. Stir to combine. Add Parmesan rind and water. Increase heat and bring the mixture to a boil; cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Remove Parmesan rind. Add spinach and allow to wilt. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze lime wedge over soup and stir. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: The Parmesan rind adds a bit of depth to the soup and infuses some of the Parmesan flavor. Make sure to stir the rind during the cooking process or it’ll end up sticking to the bottom of the pot. Enjoy!