Lentil Soup is amazingly delicious and healthy, and naturally low fat
Lentils are pulses, which are the edible seeds of a plant. Their name is derived from the Latin term- lens, most likely due to their shape that resembles a convex optic lens. Lentils have been in existence for over 8,000 years, originating in the Near East and Mediterranean. Then, they were known as a poor man’s food, and often shunned by the rich. Today, they are recognized as an excellent source of protein and are often a primary source of protein, particularly for vegans. About 50% of the world’s lentils are consumed in India. The flavor of lentils is a very earthy, savory flavor and, like mushrooms, they tend to take on the flavor of the cooking liquid be it water, chicken, vegetable or beef broth.
Lentils and split peas are are not the same- they are cousins. Split peas have had their outer coat removed (thus, they are “split from their outer coats”). Lentils retain their outer coat. For this reason, split peas cook quicker than lentils. Lentils differ from other pulses (chickpeas, beans, peas) in that they do not require soaking. Simply rinse and add them to liquid.
“The Perfect Food”
High in protein and fiber, low in complex carbohydrates, low-fat, cholesterol and gluten- free are just a few qualities of the amazing lentil. Based on the daily recommended intake (RDI) of a 2,000 calorie diet, a half-cup of lentils provides 26g protein and 18g fiber (72% of the RDI). They are also high in folate offering 50% of RDI of folate, 25% potassium and 45% iron.
This lentil soup dish is filling, satisfying, easy to make and quite cost efficient. In addition to the nutritional benefits of the lentil, it provides cartenoids (beta carotene), vitamins A and E from carrots, as well as fiber from celery, and the powerful antioxidant lycopene from tomatoes.
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 cup yellow onion chopped
- 2 cups carrots (about 3 large carrots) sliced
- ½ cup celery (about 2 stalks) chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 32 oz. box of vegetable broth (about 4 cups)
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a dutch oven, add oil, onion, carrot and celery; cook on medium-high until onions are translucent (5-8 minutes)
- Add tomatoes (with their juice), broth and bay leaves
- Bring combination to boil
- Reduce heat to medium low and cook 10-15 minutes, or until carrots are tender
- Reduce heat to low; add lentils; cover and let simmer about 25 minutes, till lentils are tender
- Lentils absorb liquid, so check on them occasionally; you may need to add more broth or water
- Remove bay leaves prior to serving
- Lentils do not need to be soaked--just rinsed prior to adding them to the liquid
- If you want to heighten the nutrition of lentil soup, add 3 cups of chopped kale about 5 minutes before serving
- This recipe in total takes about an hour to make because I like to bring the tomato mixture to a rolling boil then let it cook for about 20 minutes; however, you don't have to cook the tomato mixture that long--I think it allows the flavors to marry and cooks off some of the acidity from the tomatoes.
What Color Lentil Do I Use?There are three types of lentils: brown, red and green. This recipe uses brown lentils, which have a mild flavor and are most common. Red lentils, commonly found in curries, are the sweetest tasting. Green lentils are a bit more peppery and require more cooking time.
Ingredients in Lentil SoupThis delicious homemade soup contains simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry and refrigerator!
- brown lentils
- onion, celery, carrots
- diced tomatoes
- vegetable broth
- bay leaves