This is one of my go-to nutritional powerhouses. What I like about these tiny dried beans are their versatility in recipes, low cost and great flavor.
A little bit goes a long way, so they are an economical choice for your pantry. I typically find the green lentil variety in supermarkets for less than $1 per pound. One-third cup makes an ample serving for up to four, depending on your recipe.
I love how this food also shows up in recipes from different cultures. Everybody knows about the lentil. One of my favorites is Dal, which makes a great side dish or main for meatless meals.
One reason why lentils are so ubiquitous in cultures around the world is their nutritional content. Lentils contain high amounts of protein, potassium and dietary fiber. They are great sources of vitamin C, calcium, iron, B-6 and magnesium. Depending on your preparation, your lentil recipe is likely to be low in fat and cholesterol.
This is my basic Lentil Soup recipe, which is easy to change up and add to. Enjoy these green nutritional giants.
1/3 cup Dry green lentils
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 cup Onion, chopped
1 cup Carrots, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Cumin
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper (or to taste)
2 cups Free-range, low-sodium chicken broth
Note: This is where I can change up my diet. For a vegan/vegetarian soup I use vegetable broth or only water and compensate with increasing amounts of spices and salt.
2 cups Water
Optional: For a hearty and smoky version of this soup, add cubed smoked turkey. Buy one 1/4 inch cut slice of smoked turkey from the deli and cut it up into tiny cubes. I use water only in this version because the smoked turkey gives the soup great flavor without the chicken broth.
Rinse and sort through dry beans to remove debris. Set them aside.
Heat EVOO in a large pot (e.g., 5.5 qt) over medium heat.
Add onion, carrots and garlic to EVOO. Cook until the onions just begin to soften.
Stir in dry beans, thyme, cumin and bay leaf. Cook with carrots and onion about one minute.
Pour in chicken broth and water, add salt and pepper, then stir the ingredients together.
Cover the pot and bring the soup to a quick boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Tip: Taste your soup during the cooking process and add water and seasonings to taste during the simmer.
Cook the soup for 30 minutes or until the lentils are just tender but not mushy (for this recipe) and carrots are cooked through.
Tip: Add more water or broth if you taste and the lentils are not quite done and need more time.
Serve hot in bowls with fresh bread.