The first time I cooked lentils was a direct result of reading my friend Stephanie’s blog, which referenced this ultra healthy, veggie-packed soup she was eating for lunch on a daily basis that summer. Since summer is such a fine time for barbecues, potlucks, weddings, and other such occasions where enjoying copious amounts of food and drink is all but required, the idea of a nice, light, detoxifying lunch during the workweek sounded like a nice favor to do for myself. As an added bonus, this recipe makes enough soup to feed a small vegetarian army for days!
PREP: 10 minutes, COOK: 60 minutes, Serves 8.
2 cups beluga lentils (you can use other varieties, but these are my favorite)
28 oz. roma tomatoes*
2 cups veggie or chicken stock
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch of kale (or another leafy green)
4 big garlic cloves, sliced
1 jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp cumin
sea salt & black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
* The original recipe calls for a 28 oz. can of tomatoes. When I have made it before, I have used Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes and they work just fine. However, I recently realized how easy it is to roast your own tomatoes and I am never going back to canned sauces or tomatoes again. It makes an enormous difference and I highly recommend roasting them yourself. If you decide to use a can, just add the jalapeño, bell pepper and garlic to the onions when they have cooked down a bit.
Boil your potato in water in a pot. Meanwhile, bring the lentils and 8 cups of water to a boil, turn down to medium-high heat, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. By the time the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender, the potato should be ready, too. Drain both. Set the lentils aside and put the potato in the fridge.
While the lentils and potato are cooking, dice your tomatoes and red pepper, slice the garlic and jalapeño and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Broil for about 20 minutes total, mixing around a few times. Inhale deeply. This is why you’re doing it yourself. What were you planning on doing during this time, anyway? You’re already in the kitchen.
Next, heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a big soup pot (my 6 qt dutch oven is perfect). Add the onions and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium. Dice your cool, cooked potato and toss it in the pot along with the lentils and let everything stew for 5-10 minutes. Chop or tear the kale into bite size pieces and put it in just before you’re ready to eat it. You just want to wilt it a bit – not cook it too much. Add a little water at this point if you want a soupier consistency. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until it makes your taste buds dance.
On its own this soup is a delightful vegan dish. Add a slice of rustic bread, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic salt and lightly broiled and you have a delicious meal. Of course, we here at Love of Grub are not vegans, and we love us some cheesey goodness. I recommend some shredded pepperjack, a dollop of sour cream, or a spoonful of salsa on top. I also recommend a cold amber beer alongside it, but like I said, it’s pretty great on its own. I love making this soup on a Sunday afternoon and having it for dinner, then enjoying leftovers for a hearty, filling, yet extremely healthy lunch for the next few days.