Monday, March 29, 2010

Meatless Monday - Don't Forget the Legumes!

Ah, legumes. These little guys are often overlooked due to the perception of complexity to cook them. My first memory of lentils is my mother soaking them and removing their skins before making soup. She declared at that time we'd never eat lentils again. Now, I have since discovered that removing the skins from lentils is not required!

After reading this recipe in the Week magazine, we have been regular consumers of red lentils. I buy them in the bulk food aisle. They are inexpensive, have great flavor and fantastic nutritional value. 1/4 cup uncooked red lentils = 166 calories, <1g fat, 12g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 3mg sodium. Red lentils have had their skins removed and are split, so they cook quickly and evenly. I will often toss them into my homemade soups for extra protein.

So, for us busy parents in the need for a quick and healthy dinner, here is a hearty soup recipe we love. For you Slow Food lovers out there, adding the spices to the hot pan is really something to savor. Add a little cayenne pepper if you like to kick things up a bit.


3 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 large carrot - chopped small
2 T tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 qt vegetable broth
2 C water
1 C red lentils
juice 1/2 lemon
3 T chopped cilantro

In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion and garlic. Saute until golden.Add tomato paste and spices. Saute 2 minutes longer. Stirring constantly.Deglaze with broth. Add remaining broth, water, lentils, and carrot. Simmer partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Use your immersion blender and puree. We like ours smooth. The recipe called for it chunky. Pick your fancy.

Add the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve with your favorite crusty bread and a side salad. Serves four.


  1. We love this soup. Don't skip the lemon at the end. Really makes a difference!!

  2. We love this soup. Don't skip the lemon at the end. Really makes a difference!!

  3. Thanks Deonne! I've got bags of "regular" lentils hanging out in my kitchen; I always forget to use them. Wonder if I'll get a similar result without them being red lentils?

  4. Hi Marie!
    Yes! I made this first with regular lentils. Cooks a little longer, but very yummy. Give the girls some Goldfish crackers to pour in and I bet they eat it up. Seems to do the trick in our house!