Tag Archives: lentils

A Leg Up On Legumes

When it comes to food that is inexpensive, versatile, nutrient rich and a pantry staple, nothing can beat beans and legumes. They can be a base for anything from bowls, to entrees, to salads and soups. The two I use the most are chickpeas and lentils. They are cousins and their history dates back to 6000 B.C. Both chickpeas and lentils are still a staple in the Middle Eastern and Indian diets, and are featured in many cuisines throughout the world. They are considered a superfood as they are rich in protein, and are often used as a meat replacement in vegetarian diets. If paired with brown rice or a whole grain they are a complete protein.

Lentils come in a variety of colors, such as brown, green (lentils du Puy), gold, red and even black. Used in French bistro cuisine, they became a favored ingredient. Red lentils cook the fastest and break down quickly, while brown are typically used for soups. Green du Puy hold their shape and are favored for salads. Before using lentils, it is prudent to sort through them for unwanted pebbles or debris. I simply pour them onto a sheet pan and look them over, then transfer them to a wire colander and give them a rinse. The following recipe is beautifully earthy and comes together quickly, making it perfect for a week night. I usually make a large batch, since it freezes well. That way I can thaw a quart and have it on the table without much notice.

COUNTRY LENTIL SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound bag of brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible) or water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
  • 1 15.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glenn)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add celery, carrots and onions to pot and sauté until onions are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and mix.
  2. Next add the rinsed lentils, and mix thoroughly. Add the vegetable stock or water and mix again. Bring to a boil, then cover slightly ajar and simmer on low for 40-50 minutes. Taste lentils to seen if they are soft. If not continue to simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until done.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Mix, then heat about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Off heat, add red wine vinegar. Ladle into bowls.

Serves: 8-10

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