The winter holidays are loaded with culinary temptations. From party cocktails to comfort food to dessert platters, there is no lack opportunity to indulge. Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to put the brakes on and clean up my diet a bit. My energy level was low; I felt sluggish. In perfect timing, I came across Melissa Clark’s recipe for Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, and it seemed just the ticket. Using the ingredients I had on hand, I made my own version of this popular soup. The following week I made it again, refining it to suit my taste– using brown lentils, less stock for a thicker soup, and wilting in lots of healthy greens. The result is a simple soup, richly flavored. The lemon gives it an unexpected brightness that just sings. My husband, who tends to think lentil soup is boring, was pleasantly surprised. “So much flavor! And it tastes healthy, in a good way.”
Suffice it to say, I’ll be enjoying this soup throughout the holiday season. It’s so easy to throw together. I’ve thickened the broth so it’s halfway between a soup and a stew; pour it over white or brown rice for a complete protein and a heartier meal. Enjoy!
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 quart vegetable stock (if not vegetarian, you can substitute chicken stock)
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups brown, green or red lentils, rinsed and sorted
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves (you can substitute kale, swiss chard, or another favorite green)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (you can substitute parsley-- I prefer the flavor of cilantro here)
- 1 lemon
You will also need
- Soup pot, immersion blender, lemon squeezer
- Heat up the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and carrot. Sauté until the onion softens and starts to turn golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes longer until fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste, cumin, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
- Add the vegetable stock, water, lentils and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer then cover the pot, slightly vented. Let the soup cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
- Remove soup from heat, remove the bay leaf and discard. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup halfway, so that it thickens but still has texture.
- Put soup over medium heat again. Add the fresh spinach leaves and cilantro. Stir the greens into the soup for 1-2 minutes until just wilted (covering the pot will wilt them faster).
- Turn off the heat and stir in fresh lemon juice to taste. Adjust seasonings if desired, and serve.