Mary’s Super Comforting Lentil Soup with Bacon Rind or Pork Belly
The days are getting longer, but this is definitely the coldest time of year in the Midwest. And who doesn’t love to warm up with a delicious bowl of soup? This flavorful and super comforting lentil soup recipe, made with bacon rind or pork belly, is just what I need on a chilly January day. Infused with smoky flavor notes, this lentil soup recipe is a must-have comfort food this winter season. Plus, it’s so hearty, that you can serve it for dinner with a simple side salad or some bread.
If going to the butcher and buying fresh bacon rind for a bowl of soup seems like too much, I suggest getting even more decadent! Try your hand at my Short Ribs in Wine Sauce recipe one night, then use the leftover bacon as a garnish on this soup the next night. A sprinkle of fresh parsley and a loaf of crusty bread will bring it all together. Yum!
What kind of lentils are best for making lentil soup?
Lentils come in a variety of different colors: green, gray, black, brown, and even red (though they look more pink to me). The lentil itself is the seed of the plant. These little legumes are small but mighty: They’re cholesterol-free and full of fiber and minerals like potassium, iron, and folate. And yep, you heard that right—lentils are legumes, just like beans.
Whenever I make lentil soup, I go for a brown or red lentil. Red lentils are lovely—and they cook the fastest—but they do lose some of that rosy pink color as they simmer. While lentils are one of the most popular options for vegetarians, I urge you not to mess with this recipe (sorry, veggies). The bacon rind adds a key flavor element that really takes this delicious winter soup recipe over the top!
How to Choose High Quality Bacon Rind
I’m a huge fan of visiting my local butcher shop! (Carnivore in Oak Park, Illinois, I’m coming to you!) If you want the good stuff, I recommend taking a trip to your local butcher to ask for bacon rind and any other specialty meats you’re looking for. The quality is going to be so much nicer than anything you grab off the shelf at the supermarket.
If you can’t find bacon rind, don’t worry—you can substitute pork belly in this recipe, and it will be just as good. The only difference between using bacon rind and pork belly is how it chops it up. When you cut the bacon rind, the slices will be relatively thin, while the pork belly will naturally be a little bit chunkier.
Do I have to rinse my lentils? Pro tip: How to Clean Lentils Properly
If you’re one of those people who’d like to just dump your lentils in a pot of water and walk away, you should definitely be rinsing your lentils first! Cleaning your lentils properly gets rid of dust and dirt, but when you’re working with tiny legumes like these, little rocks can also work their way in. I don’t know about you, but that is NOT the kind of crunch I like in my food. Rinse the lentils thoroughly in a strainer, sifting through with your fingers, and look out for pebbles and rocks before you start cooking.