Do you know the word association game…I say a word and you say the first thing that comes to mind? Well when anyone says “Lentil” my first thought is “Yentl”…strange association, I know. And I’m not a big Yentl fan, so maybe it’s not surprising that I’ve never cooked with lentils before. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t know what the heck to do with them!
Some tidbits about Lentils:
- Health magazine selected lentils as one of the world’s healthiest foods.
- Lentils should not be eaten raw and some require soaking overnight before preparation. Be sure to read the package before cooking.
- Lentils are a great source of protein, containing almost all essential amino acids.
- Lentils are high in fiber, with green lentils having higher fiber content than red lentils.
- Lentils have high iron content, making them good for preventing iron-deficiency.
I’m disappointed in myself for not introducing this healthy food to my family’s diet sooner!
Recently I was at a restaurant (see American Flatbread article) and had the pleasure of sampling their new lentil soup. It was delicious! So I thought I’d try to make a lentil soup for my family for meat-free Monday. The recipe I found was not like the restaurants (theirs had more of a tomato flavor) but it was just as good. My husband really liked it and my 7 year old ate some and said it was good. I think the texture threw him off a bit as it’s partly chunky and partly pureed. But I loved it and will definitely make this again and again. My only complaint was that the original recipe made enough for one family meal with just a little leftover. I will definitely double the recipe next time! I hope you enjoy!
Lentil Soup with Lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1 (32 ounce) carton chicken broth (I used vegetable broth to make it meat-free)
1 cup red lentils (I used green lentils because that’s what I had already purchased)
1 large carrot, diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 pinch chili powder
1.Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion has turned golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder. Cook and stir 2 minutes more until the spices are fragrant.
2.Stir in the chicken broth, lentils, and carrot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
3.Pour half of the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot. Do not puree all of the soup, leave it a little chunky.
4.Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, then season to taste with salt. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of chili powder to serve.