Lentil Soup for Lovers

Lentils are a great legume to have tucked in the pantry for a rainy day or an easy evening.  These little nuggets are highly versatile:  they cook up in a hurry and their earthy flavor blends with a multitude of seasonings and treatments.

Not only are lentils low in fat, high in protein and rich in fiber, they are nutrient rich:  these powerhouses are packed with calcium, potassium, vitamin K, zinc and niacin.Lentil soup

Simmer a cup or two of lentils, add a few handfuls of fresh vegetables, perhaps a smidgen of bacon and/or a little piece of frozen kielbasa for additional flavor and richness.  With little effort you’ve got an impressive, heart-thumping homemade soup in less than an hour.

More importantly, lentil soup is even better the day after…

Lentil Soup

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
Water to cover by 2”, plus additional as needed
1 tsp olive oil
½ onion, small chop
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup carrots, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
1 stalk celery, small chop
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, sage)
1 thick slice bacon, chopped
6 oz. Kielbasa or other smoked sausage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups beef stock or 1 cube beef bouillon plus water
3 ounces fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed

Directions

  1. Place the rinsed lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with water by 2”.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, season lightly with salt and simmer the lentils until almost tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove the lentils to a holding bowl.
  2. In the saucepan heat the olive oil; add the onion and cook to soften.  Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the carrot, jalapeno, celery, dried herbs and cook another 2 minutes. Remove to the lentil bowl. Wipe out the pan, heat the bacon and cook until it begins to brown, drain most of the fat off and remove the bacon to the lentil bowl.
  3. In the saucepan add the kielbasa and brown lightly.  Return the lentil mixture to the pan.  Add enough water or beef stock to keep the lentils covered by about 1-2 inches. If using water add a bouillon cube; bring to a boil and simmer an additional 20 minutes.  Adjust seasoning adding pepper and salt if needed, and cook until lentils are tender and the flavors have blended.
  4. When ready to serve, stir in a large handful of spinach per serving, gently combine and cover until lightly wilted.  Serves 3-4.
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