It was a gray August day, the kind that makes you appreciate the fleeting summer days of Alaska all the more. I was craving something warm and substantial, but not overly heavy. Lentil soup was just what I needed. I went out to the garden to grab a few carrots, fully intending to make my old tried and true recipe (everyone has one, right?). But while I was out there I thought “why not” and grabbed some heirloom red celery, sugar snap peas, kale and parsley. The garden lentil soup was beginning to take shape.
Tiny, but powerful
The humble lentil packs a lot of nutrition in a tiny package. Lentils have more antioxidant activity than any other legume. They are also high in protein and fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Fiber and protein leave the stomach slowly, keeping you satisfied for longer and your blood sugar stable. High fiber foods also help to prevent heart disease. So does folate and magnesium, which lentils are also a rich source of. To top it off, lentils are also a good source or iron, which increases energy and metabolism. Children, adolescence and menstruating, pregnant or lactating women in particular, have greater needs for iron.
The more you eat the more you toot?
If all that wasn’t enough to convince you to eat more lentils, consider this: lentils cause less flatulence than other legumes. Lentils are lower in oligosaccharides, the carbohydrate responsible for feeding the gas-producing bacteria in your gut that put the toot in the magical fruits.
Fast, frugal and fabulous
Lentils are not only nutrition powerhouses, they are also widely available and inexpensive. They cook quickly and don’t require soaking like other dried legumes, saving you precious time in the kitchen. In this case I used sprouted lentils which cook even faster. If you use un-sprouted lentils, cook them separately while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Black or beluga lentils are the most nutritious of all lentils, but green or French lentils, which are also very nutritious, would work great here as well. Beluga lentils are more expensive and harder to find, so stick with green lentils if you’re on a budget. Another thing I should add since we’re on the subject of budgets – you’ll notice that I use the kale stems here. I also used all but the green parts (which I saved for another use) of the onion pictured above. The point is, you spent your hard earned cash for those lovely organic, local, home-grown veggies. Put them to good use!
I like my soups to be chunky and substantial, but this recipe is super flexible. Add more water for a thinner texture or blend it if that’s how you roll. Also feel free to experiment with different veggies depending on what’s fresh and seasonal in your area.
What really makes this recipe shine are the spices and apple cider vinegar. It may sound odd at first, but trust me – this combo is a winner! The wildcard here is really the sugar snaps, which I grabbed on a whim (and because I have an abundance in my garden right now). I was not disappointed. And don’t skimp on the toppings either; it’s the best part in my opinion.
This soup is even better the next day and freezes well too, so make extra – you won’t regret it!
I hope you’re enjoying the last bits of summer and the bounty in gardens and at markets right now.
Got something special in your favorite lentil soup? Share in the comments below!