As a university dietitian, I spend a good chunk of my day talking to students about kitchen essentials. Topics include must-have appliances, pantry staples, and easy, healthy recipes that they can whip up without using google. It’s amazing to me how many students I see who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen! Since I practically grew up with a wooden spoon in my mouth, I sometimes forget that often a barrier to eating healthy is not having a clue on what foods to make.
So, my students and I talk a lot about food. You know, recipe ideas that tweak the college basics: pasta that isn’t ramen, stiry-fry using frozen vegetables, and for my students who know how to chop a few vegetables, this perfect lentil soup.
Oh yeah, I went there. My perfect lentil soup. Perfect in the sense that it takes limited skills in the kitchen, is incredibly flavorful, healthy and did I mention- dirt cheap. While it completes the checklist for a starving student, it also fits my checklist of must-have meals on a monthly basis.
I’ve made this soup so many times, I could make it in my sleep. Start with a simple saute of onion, carrot and celery. Followed by fire-roasted tomatoes, cooked lentils, spices, and savory broth. I was shocked that I hadn’t yet included it on my blog so last weekend I measured each spice and ingredient so you too could enjoy the perfect lentil soup.
As vegetarians, I don’t ever worry about BL’s and my protein intake because I know we are getting enough, thanks in part to my reliance on the mighty lentil. (You know it wouldn’t be a proper DK post if I didn’t declare my love for lentils at least once.)
The little legume packs 18g of protein plus 16g of fiber all for 1 cup. I bring this point up so often because I think it’s important to note that legumes deliver quite the nutrition punch; it’s also what gives this soup amazing staying power. Since protein is the most satiating (read: fuller, longer) macronutrient, adding it to major meals allows you to feel satisfied longer. It also prevents mid-afternoon snack attacks.
Of course this soup is perfect on it’s own or paired with a salad; however, if you have a few more moments of time, consider making a loaf of my no-knead bread alongside. Just like the soup, you don’t need to be a baker to have perfect bread. The no-knead approach is completely foolproof–just ask my college students ; )
Let’s chat! What meal do you make so often, you could you make it in your sleep?
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- ½ onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 qt. vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1¼ cup lentils (green are my favorite!) rinsed and picked over
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- In a stockpan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrot and celery and small pinch salt and pepper.
- Stir occasionally and allow the vegetables to sweat together and reduce. You want the onions to almost be caramelized, about 15 minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir together to cook for an additional minute.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the red wine vinegar and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes until lentils are tender.
- Depending on the brand of broth used, you may need more salt and pepper. Season to taste.
- Before serving, stir in the tbsp. of red wine vinegar
- I prefer my soup with lots of broth but if you would prefer a thicker soup, remove 1-2 cups of the soup and add to a blender. Puree until smooth and add back to the soup.