I don’t ever remember consuming lentils when I was young, and this one was on my list of “to-try foods” for some time now. And since I’m being all brave and what-not, expanding the amount of foods I eat, I gave this simple lentil and veggie soup a try during my journey into whole foods.
I grew up quite the picky eater and began to make one new food each week in order to expand my tastes as well as nutrition. This simple lentil and veggie soup was the first thing I tried with lentils and we’ve made it several times since then!
Lentils are part of the legume family, and one of the characteristics of a legume is it’s ability to absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it into protein within the plant own seeds. They grow in pods, are flat, are about the size of a pencil eraser, and can be sold whole or split in half.
For such a small ‘seed’, these lentils are packed with great nutrition! They are high in fiber which can help manage and prevent blood sugar spikes after a meal. And of course the lack of your blood sugar spiking is fabulous for keeping your hormones in check! They also boast excellent amounts of folate, with just one cup of lentils bringing you over half your daily needs. Lentils are also high in manganese (which plays a role in reproductive health), protein, and iron.
(an in depth nutritional profile)
How to prepare lentils
Like other legumes, lentils contain something called phytates as well as other enzyme inhibitors, that prevent our bodies from absorbing nutrients and can actually take nutrients from us. In order to render these harmless, it’s as easy as soaking for a few hours before cooking. Pour lentils into a clean jar or bowl, cover with warm water, and add 2 Tbsp whey (or other acidic medium like vinegar or lemon juice) per 2 cups of lentils. Soak for about 8 hours, then drain and rinse. Place your rinsed lentils in a pot and cover with water. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bite tender.
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 diced carrots
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes – or 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 2 – 3 cups of soaked lentils
- 8 cups liquid (a mix of water and broth – I used half and half)
- ½ cup spinach
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- pepper to taste
- Optional - cooked and cubed chicken
- In a large pot, add oil, onions, carrots, and celery and cook until onion is tender and translucent.
- Stir in garlic, oregano, and basil, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
- Stir in lentils, bay leaf, water/broth, and tomatoes. Add in chicken if you'd like to use it - I love to use leftover meat from roasting a whole chicken.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, and simmer for at about 1 hour (testing at 30 minutes and again at 45 minutes to make sure the lentils don’t over cook)(also, don’t add the salt in until the lentils have finished cooking as it will prevent them from softening).
- Just before you’re ready to serve, stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts.
- Finally stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.