Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Love Lentils

lentils commonly come in three colors: green, brown, and red
Writing this blog has been fun, but it has made me realize how often I cook the same or similar foods. Half a cup of leftovers? Make a pizza or a quiche. Leftover chicken? Make chicken salad, creamed chicken, and chicken soup.

One other soup I make frequently is red lentil soup. It's quick to make, pretty to see, and very tasty and satisfying. I used to make it using brown lentils and sausage of some sort, but now I make red lentil soup almost exclusively. It has no meat, but it does have chicken broth. (Brown lentils cook quickly and are the softest; they can turn to mush if you're not careful. Red lentils are the sweetest and cook even faster. Green lentils stay firm and are good for salads or cold dishes.)

I can feel virtuous eating my lentil soup, because lentils are incredibly healthful. They are packed with protein, fiber, and iron. A cup of lentils contains as much protein as 3 large eggs, with almost no fat. It is one of the oldest cultivated food, and no wonder. It's hearty, easy to eat, and versatile.

A friend gave me this soup recipe more than a decade ago, and I have eaten it regularly ever since.
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tsp cumin
  • 4 carrots, diced small
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups washed red lentils
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • parsley and chopped green onions are optional
Saute the onion, garlic, carrots, and pepper until soft.
Add cumin, lentils, and broth. Simmer until the lentils are soft, which should take about an hour. If you'd like, garnish with chopped fresh parsley and chopped green onions.

This freezes beautifully, so whatever I don't eat the first day or so, I freeze in meal-sized containers. Served with bread or crackers and a green salad, it's a fast feast.

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