I know it’s not soup weather, but I picked up a cold and my sinuses demanded it. Besides, Savannah is gray and drizzly today, so a lentil ratatouille stew doesn’t feel too out of place.
This stew is my riff on the dish I hated most as a child: ratatouille. My mother baked sliced zucchini, onions, and stewed tomatoes with Parmesan on top, and to this day, I still think I’d only eat the cheese off the top. However, with a little vegetable broth and some lentils thrown in, ratatouille gets a delicious makeover as a stew. Easy to make, hearty, and budget-friendy–what’s not to love?
Serve this with a gluten-free flatbread, foccacia, or an olive and rosemary loaf. I used this great recipe for a quick gluten-free flatbread. (Which is now available here on Wooden Spoon Baking in a slightly updated format.)
An important note about broth:
It’s important to use a good broth with vegetarian soups to add richness without overwhelming the other flavors. We’ve all bought bad tasting broth and ruined a soup before, right? It seems like vegetable broth is especially hard to pin down–it’s either too salty, too mushroom-y, or has a really off-putting flavor. How can it be so hard to make vegetable broth?
The best broth is easier to make than you think, and basically free. Save all your ends and trimmings from onions, celery, carrots, greens, garlic, etc. (avoid starchy vegetables, moldy bits, or tomatoes, as these cloud the broth). Put vegetable scraps in a pot, fill with water to almost cover, and add some peppercorns, bay leaves, and herb stems. A dried mushroom or two wouldn’t be out of place for that earthy, umami flavor. Plus they’re cheap at Asian markets! Next, simmer for 30 minutes until aromatic. Strain out and discard solids. There’s no salt, so you’ll need to add as needed in your recipe. Use the final product to make fabulous soups like this one, with the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what’s in your broth.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 medium onions, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/4" pieces
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp. salt to start (add more later if necessary)
- 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried marjoram
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 c. dry white wine (use broth if you avoid alcohol)
- 1 1/2 c. dried lentils
- 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 6-8 c. vegetable broth
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- Heat oil on medium-high heat in your favorite soup pot. When hot, add vegetables, 1 tsp. salt, pepper, and herbs. Saute until onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes.
- Pour in wine, and allow most of it to boil off, 1-2 minutes. Add lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, and 6 c. broth. Turn heat to high, and once your stew boils, reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, adding more water or broth as necessary, until lentils are soft. Taste and add more salt. Stir in basil and balsamic.
- Serve piping hot with a big wedge of flatbread to sop up the broth. Leftovers freeze well for later consumption.