I used to think I hated lentil soup. I always experienced it as a flavorless bowl of mushy lentils and vegetables. This view of lentil soup persisted until one snow evening when I was in graduate school and my roommate whipped up a batch of it. Skeptical but starving, I accepted a bowl of it and my perception of lentil soup was changed forever. Hers was flavorful, hearty, and didn’t have the texture issues I had experienced with lentil soup in the past. Yum!
Once I was living on my own, I started making lentil soup myself. My recipes is a riff of my ex-roommate’s, with a few additions and subtractions based on Internet recipes I’ve combed through over the years. The best part? It’s one of my most frugal and healthy recipes. Lentils are packed with fiber, are a good source of protein, and only cost about $1 per bag. My recipe is also vegan, in case that’s a dietary concern for some readers.
– 1 cup of dried brown lentils (be sure to inspect them for rocks!)
– 2-3 carrots, chopped
– One small white onion, roughly chopped
– 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
– 4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper!)
– A pinch of dried thyme
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium flame. Saute the carrots, celery, and onions until the onion is translucent. Add spices.
2. Add the vegetable broth and lentils. Cover pot and bring soup to a boil. Once soup boils, reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until lentils are tender (as in, you can bite into them easily) but still firm enough that they are aren’t squishing easily or falling apart (no mush!). I recommend testing small portions of them every 5 minutes once the soup has been simmering for 25 minutes or so.
* If you notice that the broth has been absorbed before the lentils are finished cooking, just add some water, about one cup at a time. Be sure that if you need to add water, you also add more salt and pepper so that the flavor doesn’t get diluted.
Bonus frugal tip! You know how carrots and celery come in a big bag, but you only need about half the bag at a time and by the time you get around to using the other half the veggies have gone bad? I recommend cutting up the whole bag of both the carrots and celery at once, use what you need for the soup, then freeze the rest for later use in a Ziploc baggie. This also saves you from having to do all that chopping next time (I hate chopping!).
I like to have my lentil soup with a little blob of low fat sour cream and one of these delicious biscuits.