Years ago, this soup recipe was my first exposure to lentils, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. The pheasant I used was some that my husband brought home after a hunting trip. I can’t give any credit for this recipe, it’s that old. But I’ve been making it for a long time, and it’s still a keeper.
Pheasant isn’t terribly popular as a protein, mostly because it can easily be overcooked. But in this soup it stays nice and tender. You can substitute chicken if necessary.
If you’re in the mood for a laugh, I wrote a post about discovering my husband was a hunter after we were married.
To make this soup recipe for the blog, I purchased whole pheasants from D’Artagnan. I guess the local Oklahoma birds have been hiding in the fields these days.
Make sure you don’t use “grocery store” lentils when you make this, because they will become overcooked and mushy. If that’s all you can find, omit the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Lentil Pheasant Soup
1 pheasant, 1 1/2 – 2 pounds, quartered, backbone removed and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 carrots, cut into 1/2” dice
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2” dice
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2” dice
1 medium parsnip, peeled, cut into 1/4” dice
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
4 cups pheasant or chicken broth
3 cups drained and crushed canned plum tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
6 tablespoons Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper
Sour cream, optional
Place the backbone and wings in a large pot with water, and make a quick broth, which only takes about 20 minutes. Include some onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and celery leaves. Or, substitute chicken broth.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a soup pot. Add the carrots, onions, celery, parsnip and garlic. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes to wilt vegetables.
Season the pheasant legs and breasts with salt and pepper.
To the soup pot, when the vegetables have wilted, add the tomatoes, lentils, and pheasant legs. To add the pheasant stock, I measured from the pot in which I made the broth, and poured it through a strainer.
Stir well, and simmer the soup, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Add pheasant breasts and simmer another 15 minutes.
Remove legs and breasts; reserve and let cool. Also let the backbone and wings cool so the meat can be removed from the bones for the soup.
Cook the soup, completely covered, for another 15 minutes, over the lowest heat. Give the soup a stir and make sure you like the consistency. Adjust with more broth if necessary. Season with parsley, thyme, salt, and white pepper.
During the final simmer, remove skin from the pheasant parts and chop or slice the meat. Add to the soup and stir to combine.
I love serving this soup with sour cream.
It’s just nice with the tomato-rich lentils, and the pheasant.
This soup freezes well, so don’t hesitate to make a double batch! If you were paying attention, I used two birds for this recipe, and doubled the ingredients.