You're probably wondering right now how something with lentils in it can be "mostly" healthy, since lentils are known to be one of the first crops humans cultivated and ate (dating back to before Neolithic, or pottery, times!) They also are the third-highest legume in terms of protein (after soybeans and hemp seeds) and have over half of a person's daily iron allowance in a one cup serving. How can something so of-the-earth be only "mostly healthy"?
Well, I'll tell ya - we ain't eating these puppies alone. It all depends on what you put in it!
This version calls for some spices, a few vegetables, and some chicken stock. You could really go to town with this recipe, though - potatoes, bacon, a dollop of creme fraîche? Anything is on the table! That's why this "recipe" is so great: you can change it to include or exclude anything you want.
First, I will admit that this recipe is pretty time intensive. There's a lot of chopping that goes down, and then a fair amount of stirring and waiting as well. But in the end, this soup/stew combo will last you at least 5-6 meals if you're eating solo, and for a couple of days if you're serving more than one. Who can argue with organization like that?
1 cup lentils of your choice (make sure to note the cooking time on the bag, the ones I used took about 30 minutes to mush up); about 1 cup each of vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, celery, garlic, onion, fennel, and mushrooms); spices of your choice (I used turmeric, curry powder, and ground cumin - you can get more ideas for spices here); 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or coconut milk if desired; lemon juice, salt, pepper, parmesan.
Come on inside the rest of the post to see food pictures and read more instructions! Unless you're a pro chef already, in which case, feel free to wing it. Who am I to tell you how to sopa?
Step 1: Chop up all your veggies! Yep, even the mushrooms - but put those aside for now, as they're squishier to begin with and are a bit of an oil-hog.
Step 2: Sauté all your veggies (except mushrooms) in your large soup pot with a big glug of olive oil. I'd say it's about 2 tablespoons worth, if you need exact measurements.
Step 3: While that's sautéing, chop up any remaining mushrooms and measure out your spices - I used about 1/2 teaspoon each, according to the Food52 recipe I was following.
Step 4: When the veggies are just about softened in the pan, measure out 1 cup lentils and rinse them in a colander. Sometimes there are sticks or rocks in lentils so you want to feel through them a bit!
Step 5: Squeeze half a lemon into the veggie mixture, then add your mushrooms and spices on top. Don't add liquid yet, just mix these "dry" (ish) ingredients together.
Step 6: Finally, add the lentils and the required liquid to cook them - I'd say about 4 cups liquid to 1 cup lentils is good - it all depends on how stewy or soupy you want your dish to be. If you want it to be more free flowing, add more liquid (about 6 cups.) Again this is based on reading Food52's recipe, not my own brain - want to give them full credit!
Step 7: Let your mixture cook until the lentils are cooked thoroughly and are no longer crunchy. I let mine get a bit mushy, but that's ok - I like the hearty stew texture!
Step 8: Serve with a dose of parmesan and salt & pepper, and enjoy!
If you do what I did and make a huge pot, but don't want to eat the same thing all week or are going out of town but don't want it to go bad, you can definitely freeze this bad boy! Just dose it out into individual portions (the smart move) or chip off the size you want when you're ready (what I did) and heat it up in a pan with a little bit of extra water. Good as new!
Are you still in the mood for hearty soups or have you transitioned to lighter springtime fare already?