Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kristin Nicholas: A Recipe for Lamb and Lentil Soup

Because sheep are more than just their fleece.

Photo by Kristin Nicholas
My family and I live in Western Massachusetts in an old farmhouse built in 1751. I am an author and textile designer of knitwear and stitchery, and my life has always been focused on making things. My husband grew up on a dairy farm not far from where we live now. When we met at Oregon State University, I was studying textiles and he was studying agriculture. We fell into a mutual love with each other, and with wool and sheep. When we got back to the east coast, before we were married, we bought four sheep. Some people get engaged; we got sheep!

Those four Romney sheep, purchased in 1980, were the basis of our flock, which now numbers over 400. On our farm — Leyden Glen Farm — we raise sheep primarily for their meat. We market our grass-fed lamb at farmers’ markers in Northampton and Amherst, Massachusetts. When we first began selling our meat, I quickly realized that many Americans weren’t familiar with how to cook lamb. I had been cooking our farm-raised animals and had, over the years, developed many recipes that our family enjoyed.

Lamb is the second most popular meat in the world (behind goat), and it is so versatile. It combines nicely with spices and is especially good cooked slowly in a Crock-Pot or Dutch oven. There is nothing like walking into the house and smelling a nice stew or soup cooking. All winter long, I prep my stews in the morning and let the low heat do its magic. At dinnertime, I wash some greens, and our meal is ready.

This recipe has been a big hit with our farmers’ market customers. The classic combination of lentils and lamb makes a great soup for lunch or dinner. If you double the recipe, you’ll have some for the freezer for those days you just don't have time or energy to cook.

You can find more delicious lamb recipes on our Leyden Glen Lamb website.
Photo by Kristin Nicholas

Lamb and Lentil Soup

Serves 4 to 6

¼ cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground lamb
1 small can of tomatoes (14 ounces)
1 pound lentils (preferably LePuy)
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
3 large carrots
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or more, to taste)
   salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Brown garlic and onion in the olive oil, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove cooked garlic and onion and reserve. Brown the lamb in soup pot. Drain off extra fat. Return garlic and onion to soup pot. Add the tomatoes, lentils, bay leaves, oregano, and salt, and add enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, then turn to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. In the meantime, peel and chop the carrots, cutting them on a diagonal so they are largish. Add carrots and cook the soup until the carrots are done to your liking. Add the vinegar. If you have time, let the soup sit so the flavors will mingle. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Kristin Nicholas is the author of Kristin Knits. Find more from Kristin on her website, blog, and on Facebook. For more lamb recipes, visit the Leyden Glen Farm website.

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