Food on Friday: Lightening up with lentil soup

Lentils

By Julia Westhoff

I got a new job this past week: eating Christmas cookies. It was strictly a volunteer position, and it required me to eat said Christmas cookies before, during, and after every meal. Sometimes I went above and beyond my duties by eating peanut butter cups, chocolate kisses, and marshmallow Santas. I’m a high performer.

Sadly, like so many Christmas jobs, it was seasonal employment. And it’s time for me to move on to a decidedly less fun occupation: getting healthy and swimsuit-ready for next month’s trip to Mexico. Enter, lentil soup.

Lentils are an old friend to our family. Cheap, healthy food at its finest, we often rely on lentils for delicious and nutritious salads and soups. I featured a red lentil soup here 4 years ago, but this one is much easier and just as tasty.

Two suggestions with this soup: 1) Puree half, then mix all together – it gives it the perfect texture; and 2) Add in a squeeze of lemon at the end. I do this for almost every soup I make for a great dimension of flavor. Serve this with multi-grain toast and you’ve got yourself a beautiful little meal.

Lentil Soup – Serves 6-8

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups lentils (I used green)
1 tbsp cumin
2 qt vegetable or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 whole sprigs thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or large sauce pan. Saute garlic until fragrant.
Add veggies and saute until browned and tender.

Add lentils and cumin. Cook for a few seconds, until the lentils are nicely coated in oil. Empty the broth into the pot and add the bay leaf and thyme. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf and thyme (if not dried). Add salt and pepper to taste, along with a squeeze or two of lemon. Let soup cool a bit, then blend half and add it back into the pot.