This one isn’t for the soul, it’s for the body (though the soul definitely reaps the benefits on a cold night). Days are still getting dark super early, and sometimes a little heartiness is all the heart and body need.

Lentils are an amazing source of fiber of protein and when it comes to soup, they are happy to absorb flavors from other ingredients and seasonings, and they’re fairly easy to prepare.  Here is one of my favorite recipes for a healthy lentil soup (with a little surprise mixed in).  It only takes about 15 minutes to prep, and you can leave it to simmer in a cast iron stockpot.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 ounces diced pancetta
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 cups lentils, red or green (or a combo) rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Over medium heat in a large 4-5 quart stockpot heat the olive oil and butter until the butter starts to foam. Add the pancetta and cook until browned.

2. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and onions and cook all ingredients about 10 minutes, or until veggies are fork-tender.

3. Add 4 cups of the chicken stock to the pot.  Add bay leaf, salt, thyme, oregano, and black pepper.

5. Add the lentils and increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the mixture to bubble.

6. Cover the pot (leave just a crack open), reduce the heat to low and let soup simmer for about 1 hour.

7. Remove the bay leaf, taste test to salt and pepper.

If the soup looks more like stew, you can add more chicken stock to accommodate preference, but we say the more substantial the better!

–Arianna Schioldager

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