Bring on the Lentils!
Autumn often conjures up memories of cool autumn days or walking around kicking up colorful leaves. We pull out the cozy sweaters and snuggly blankets, and dream of sitting in front of the fire with a steaming hot cup of tea or cocoa. But man and woman cannot live on cocoa alone! So then, what’s for lunch…or even dinner? Why not warm the body and soul with a big pot of delicious and healthy lentil soup?
Lentils are a great source of dietary fiber and other nutrients including iron, potassium, zinc and vitamin B6, and they have virtually no fat! Research has shown them to be good for the digestive system and highly beneficial for your heart. They can also keep your blood sugar under control and may help lower cholesterol. Lentils are considered a slow-burning, complex carbohydrate which means they can add some energy to your day as well. You can read more about their nutritional value at the World’s Healthiest Foods.
Traditional lentils tend to be brown, and they also come in black, yellow, and green varieties, but we are bringing a little of the fall colors into our meal by using red lentils in this recipe.
If you have been trying to eat a more plant-based diet, this recipe, as it is written, is vegan, however there are options at the end for adding additional flavors with meats and other vegetables if you choose.
Lentils absorb flavor well so mixing these tasty legumes with some vegetables and herbs will result in a hearty and satisfying meal the whole family can enjoy. You’ll have everyone wanting seconds or thirds! But if you’re afraid you won’t have enough, simply double the quantities, and freeze some for later. Leftover soup works well for the kids’ lunches too!
Cooking, Serving, & Storage Tips:
This is a robust meal on its own, but feel free to serve a whole-grain, gluten-free bread with it to make it an even heartier meal.
As the soup becomes thicker during cooking or storing, add a little more vegetable broth or water to thin it out.
Not a fan of the herbs or veggies in this particular recipe? Add or replace a few of them with some of your favorites or try some seasonal vegetables and see how it tastes.
The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, preferably in an air-tight container. If you have leftovers you wish to freeze, just be sure to allow the soup to cool then move the soup to freezer bags or freezer-safe containers.
Serves 8 - 10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: about 2 hours (if using store-bought broth)
2 lb onions, chopped
1 lb carrots, chopped
1 lb celery, chopped
1 lb red bell peppers, chopped
1 lb leeks, chopped
1 lb corn
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 lb red lentils*
1 lb store-bought vegetable broth*
1 cup white wine
½ cup olive oil
Fresh herbs - rosemary, sage, & tarragon – bunched and tied with a long string
*If you wish to make your own natural vegetable broth using the peelings/trimmings from this recipe, see separate instructions below.
- Wash the lentils with clean, cold water at least 4 times. You will see the dirt and natural colorants from the lentils. After washing them, soak the clean lentils in clean water for 30 minutes. While they are soaking, you can prepare and cut your vegetables.
- Preheat a large soup pot, and add olive oil.
- Add the garlic and cook for about one minute until it begins to brown. Be careful not to burn it.
- Add onions, carrots, and celery, and cook for another minute or two. In French cuisine this is called “mirepoux” and in Italian cuisine, it’s called “sofritto”.
- When the veggies become tender, add the lentils, leaks, corn, and bell peppers.
- Add the wine and vegetable broth.
- Place the bunch of herbs into the pot (still tied together – we are using these to flavor the food only) and tie the other end of the string to the handle of the cooking pot for easy removal when finished.
- Let the lentils boil at medium heat for about 1 and ½ hours, stirring often to prevent the food from sticking to the bottom. Add more broth or water as it boils off and become drier. Remove the herbs, and enjoy!
*Natural Vegetable Broth
After chopping and preparing the vegetables for the soup, place the peelings and trimmings of onions, carrots, celery, leak and the other vegetables you used or will use in water. Bring the water to a boil for. Drain the broth, removing the peelings and trimmings.
**If you would like to add meat or additional flavors, try diced or cubed meats such as sausage or prosciutto as well as potatoes or sweet potatoes.
***To prepare ahead of time, cook the lentils one day before you want to use them. They will keep in the fridge overnight and it will enhance the flavor.