Improvised Lentil Soup with Bacon & Juniper Berries

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Several things conspired to make this lentil soup–an overabundance of bacon in the fridge, some leftover juniper berries and a yen for soup on the chilly evening. Lentils and pork are a classic combination, and after consulting Niki Segnit’s The Flavor Thesaurus, I found that juniper berries (which I don’t use often) also have an affinity with pork. Deglazing the pan with a splash of sherry deepens the flavor while the juniper berries lend a bright counterpoint.

Improvised Lentil Soup with Bacon & Juniper Berries

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

Improvised Lentil Soup with Bacon & Juniper Berries


  1. 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  4. 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  5. 1/4 cup sherry
  6. 2 cups lentils (brown or green)
  7. 4 cups chicken stock
  8. 1-1/2 cups water
  9. 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  10. 20 juniper berries, crushed
  11. Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  12. Finely chopped parsley, for garnish


Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and has rendered its fat. Remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings behind. Drain bacon on a paper towel.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add onion, celery and carrot to pot; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add sherry, scrapping bottom to loosen any browned bits. Cook 2 minutes or until sherry is nearly evaporated. Stir in lentils. Add stock, water, thyme and juniper berries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer 2 cups soup to a blender or food processor; puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender to puree part of the soup in the pan). Return to pot. Serve garnished with bacon and parsley.

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