Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is a great weekday dinner.  It can be ready, start to finish, in about thirty minutes.  And most of the ingredients will probably be things that you already have on hand, or can pick up from any grocery store on the way home from work.

You will need:
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 large potatoes (or 4 Yukon gold - they will hold their shape better)
  • 5 oz kale, stems removed and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 15 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth or water if you are vegetarian)
  • hot water
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
First things first.  Saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes.  Toss in the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes and cook a few more minutes.  I would suggest covering this, because the tomatoes will splatter.  And hot tomato juice and olive oil will leave a small welt.  Not that I would know about that, of course.

While the tomatoes are cooking, chop the potatoes into large chunks and the carrots into rounds.  I personally prefer to leave the skins on for two reasons.  The first is that I like the texture and taste of the skins.  The second reason is that supposedly a lot of the fiber and nutrients associated with potatoes are either in the skins or just under them.  So if you don't mind trying the potatoes (and carrots, for that matter) with their skins, give them a good scrub and go for it!

When you have those ready, toss them in the pot with the tomatoes and onions.  Give them a stir and add the lentils.

Add all of the broth, stock or water.  Since the carton of broth is only about 4 cups, I also add about two cups of hot water to bring it to a nice 6 cups.  You could use all broth or all water.  I've done it both ways and personally prefer the mix.

Bring the soup to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are almost tender.
Stir in the kale.  Let cook another 5-10 minutes (until the potatoes are fork-tender) and then take the pot off the burner. I find that because of the canned tomatoes and broth, I do not have to add any extra salt.  If the flavors seem to be muted, try adding in a bit of fresh lemon juice.  This can boost and clarify the flavors without the extra sodium.  Another good trick is to crumble some feta on top.

Serve with crusty bread for a simple and healthy supper.  Leftovers are great the next day, too, when the flavors have really had time to come together.

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