Making note of the request for “more soups!” on the facebook fan page, I dug out my jar of French green lentils (unused and only sort of smelling like the pickles it once held) and checked out the lentil soup recipe on seriouseats.com. Robin Bellinger has a great series on eating for less than $8 and this recipe costs far less. Provided you have spices and garlic in your kitchen, the other items should cost very little. And the finished product is very filling. Add bread or a salad or a piece of chicken and you have a complete meal. No joke, y’all. And it’s so healthy, you have a great excuse to eat some of that baklava ice cream in your freezer (you did make baklava…didn’t you?).
Of course, being me, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and made some changes to the original recipe (Hi, my name is Kristen and I’m a little bit of a rebel). I upped the spices and tomato paste to increase flavor/make it appetizing to my boyfriend. I also cooked up some crispy bacon for a topping. Don’t judge. We haven’t eaten bacon in DAYS and it just seemed appropriate. We missed bacon.
But my point is: here is another soup recipe with easy-to-find-ingredients that has almost all good-for-yo-body ingredients and tastes yummy. And you thought the only nutritious soup you could eat was that cabbage soup that made rounds on the interwebs a while back. Hah! I laugh at your cabbage soup diet (but mostly because I don’t like green peppers or diets). If you are trying to eat healthier, this is a soup that will fill you up, give you nutrients, energy, fiber and iron (attention all preggos!) and tastes good–all for the cost of a Big Mac.
Adapted from Robin Bellinger’s Eight Buck Lentil Soup on Serious Eats
1 C French green lentils (mine are whole)
1 Tbsp olive oil, butter, or bacon fat (if, ahem, you’ve really missed bacon)
2 medium carrots, diced
1 small or 1/2 a large shallot (or part of an onion-whatever you have)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
grind of fresh pepper
about 4 cups water (or chicken or vegetable stock if you have it)
crispy bacon for topping (optional)
[THE NIGHT BEFORE] Soak the lentils in a bowl or saucepan overnight with just enough water to cover. They’ll be fine until lunchtime or dinnertime when you are ready to make the soup.
Rinse the lentils (ew look at that water) completely and set aside while you prep the other ingredients. Use a large saucepan for the soup. Throw the oil or bacon fat in the pan and add the carrots, shallot, and garlic. Let these cook over medium heat for a few minutes before adding the lentils and stirring well. Next add the tomato paste, spices, and water. Now put on the lid and step away with amazement while the stove does the work for you. Keep an eye on that pot while you do dishes, make homemade bread, or make deep-fried mushrooms for your boyfriend. Yeah. That’s happening right after I finish this post. Let the soup simmer for 20-odd minutes before removing lid to stir and then simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more water if you want a thinner consistency. Like I’ve said before, I’m a fan of thick, hearty soups/stews. Add more water if you think I’m crazy.
It has a definite vegetable-base taste to it, but the thyme and tomato flavors really come through and the carrots add a good, smooth texture that breaks up the heaviness of the lentils. If you opt for bacon (bacon!), just rough chop or tear up a slice or a slice and a half over a small bowl and leave it on top. Don’t let the bacon get soggy.