Boosting Lentil Soup from Basic to Brilliant

Lentil soup is a hearty fall favorite, and while a basic recipe made with stock or water and aromatics is satisfying, giving it a little twist here or there transforms it into something special. An easy way to take any bowlful up a notch is to stir in a bit of vinegar before serving it, hounds say. "A dash of balsamic against the earthiness of the lentils is terrific," says monavano, while goodhealthgourmet thinks that sherry vinegar has the "perfect balance of acid and sweetness" to complement the legume.

Chowhounds are crazy about incorporating bacon or its Italian cousins, prosciutto and pancetta, because they find that just a bit of porky goodness adds tremendous depth. Several recommend Cook's Illustrated's hearty lentil soup, which begins with bacon. Marcella Hazan's lentil soup with prosciutto is also excellent, says erica, who nevertheless prefers to make it with pancetta. Another favorite recipe using that cured meat is this one featuring oregano.

Some hounds prefer to use quick-cooking red lentils for a different kind of soup. kazhound loves this one with lemon. "I have made this 'for the week' and then eaten almost the whole thing myself in one go more than once," says kazhound. Adding dried apricots is the creative touch in Mollie Katzen's lentil soup with a hint of fruit. "Everyone I've fed this one loves it," says smz.

Discuss: Your best lentil soup recipe?

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