Tag Archives: lentils

Lentil Soup/Sopa de Lentejas (with vegetarian/vegan option); Snuggly, Spicy Winter Soup

22 Jan

If you do not have a bag of dried lentils in your larder at all times, you’ve got some explaining to do. These little cuties are about $.80 a pound, keep for a year, are full of good stuff for you and don’t need to be pre-soaked. They are fast, convenient, filling and ever so tasty. How could you not?

Lentil Soup has got to be the best comfort food ever. It is rich and hearty and slurpy and — this version at least – just a bit spicy. You can use whatever scraps you’ve got around. You can give it a Middle Eastern flavor or Italian flair by varying the spices. Use a different type of sausage – like kielbasa – and some sage or rosemary for a more Eastern European style. Use no sausage at all and a dash of liquid aminos or veggie steak sauce and some red hot pepper flakes or chipotle for a vegetarian/vegan version. It will keep in the fridge for several days and packs up really nicely for an office lunch that will make you feel loved and valued.

This is a slightly modified version of a previous lentil soup recipe…I make this all the time and I vary it to my mood. This time I included celery and just added a teaspoon of oregano; the vegetable stock I used (Nature’s Promise Organic, from Stop and Shop) really punched up the flavor so much that it didn’t need much added seasoning.

A dollop of plain nonfat yogurt or sour cream or creme fraiche makes it creamy!


Lentil Soup (Sopa de lentejas)

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1 baseball size onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced or diced to fingernail size (approx 1 Cup)

2 stalks celery, chopped

(1/2 cup chard stems, chopped – optional – I just happened to have some left over from a previous chard leaf dish)

3-4 oz chorizo (Spanish dry hot sausage), peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds (I use Palacios Hot; vegetarians can omit it entirely and add liquid aminos, steak sauce or snoky chipotle to taste)

1 medium potato, peeled (if you like) and chopped into 1.2 inch cubes (approx. 1 Cup)

1 Cup (8 oz) dry lentils, rinsed, picked through and drained

4 – 8 Cups chicken or vegetable broth (you may use water as well)

15 oz can diced tomatoes (optional)

1 tsp each – ground cumin, turmeric and oregano OR 1 tsp each – oregano and marjoram OR Tbs dry Italian herbs

Heat oil until it runs quickly and is fragrant. Add onions and stir to coat. After a minute, reduce heat to low. After five minutes start adding, garlic, then carrots, celery and optional chard, then chorizo. When chorizo begins to release its color,  stir in lentils, potatoes, broth/water and tomatoes, if using. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender, adding water a cup at a time, if desired. Add spices at the end and salt to taste.

Serve as soup with crusty bread, or over rice. Finish with a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche!

Ensalada de Lentejas (Lentil Salad, Spanish-style)

11 Jun

The hot, hazy and humid summer weather typical of Long Island has started early this year, but that doesn’t mean I am giving up my lentils. I like the taste, the price and the fact that, unlike many of the other legumes, they don’t need pre-soaking.

Nutritionally these tiny almost-beans, almost-peas are giants. According to the Mayo Clinic’s Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., “…lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.” So hip-rah, hip-rah! You should always, always, always have lentils in your pantry.

In winter I make hearty lentil soup, but hot weather calls for something cooler and lighter. I use a recipe — inspired once again by Penelope Casas’ The Foods and Wines of Spain. Have it as a main course with boiled potatoes or rice, or pair it with grilled sausages (from andouille to kielbasa..lentils love a good sausage partner). Lentils also marry well with grilled fish steaks; you can use the lentils as a bed, perhaps accompanied with polenta. This serves four as a side dish; you may want to double it for a BBQ accompaniment or main course.

Lentil Salad

½ lb uncooked pardina lentils (smaller and cuter than your average lentil, but you are free to substitute*)

1 onion, peeled. Cut in half, leaving one half whole and mincing the other half

1 clove

1 bay leaf

1 carrot scraped or peeled (scraping helps maintain a brighter color)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/8 tsp salt (a fat pinch)

Freshly ground pepper

¼ cup good olive oil

1.5 Tbs red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

 2 Tbs drained and minced roasted red pepper from a jar, plus 1 Tbs chopped for garnish

Rinse and pick through lentils and place in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Stick the clove in the onion half (reserve the minced onion), then add to pot with bay leaf, carrot, smashed garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until just tender (longer if using regular green lentils). Drain and rinse well in cold water. Remove onion (and any clove that has fallen out), bay leaf and garlic. Dice carrot and place in serving bowl with lentils. Add olive oil, vinegar, reserved mined onion, chopped garlic and minced red pepper and mix gently (you don’t want the lentils to fall apart). Let rest for at least a half hour and serve, topped with reserved red pepper as garnish.

*Green lentils are great for salads because they keep their texture. Brown can get mushy and red lentils fall apart when cooked too long, If you choose them as substitutes, start checking the texture after 15 minutes of simmering.

A Big Old Hurry Results in Revelations (and better flavor!)

31 Oct

I am making lentil soup today; it’s cheap and easy and ever-so-homey. It’s what I serve to my parents whenever they’ve come back from a long journey (which is ridiculously often). It’s hearty enough and yet light enough to make you feel relaxed and at home. It smells very good, bubbling away at the stove; every time I make it it comes out slightly different, depending on my mood and the available ingredients, but it is always good.

While I was chopping, in my usual hurry, trying to get it done before my son woke up from his nap (mission accomplished and he is STILL SLEEPING!), I started to think about the old days when I had hours to cook something. I entertained myself by chopping up all the ingredients like on a cooking show, arraying them before me in little bowls and then dropping them into my pots and pans as needed. Very satisfying.

These days, I chop as I go and drop things in the pot as soon as I get them cut up, more or less in the order I intended. If I am lucky. It’s not as aesthetic, but it has helped me in one way. I get those onions in there first, then when they are coated and sizzling in the hot oil, I turn the heat right down so they won’t burn as I chop something else. Lo and behold, those onions get a chance to get soft and sweet and caramelly on the low heat, and I actually get better flavor out of them. In the old days, I would’ve sauteed them quickly and then dropped my next precious bowl of something in right away. Not anymore!

I include the recipe here, because lentil soup needs to be in your repertory. It is very flexible; you can skip the sausage or use a different kind (adjusting seasonings to harmonize), you can use additional veg (like celery); or leftover parsley from another dish.

It requires a bit of chopping, but no babysitting while it is simmering. Lentils are cheap and wholesome and don’t require pre-soaking. It refrigerates and re-heats really well (freezing, not so much), so I pack it into our lunch boxes as well as eating it on the night it is made. Serves four big appetites as a main course.

Lentil Soup

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1 baseball size onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced or diced to fingernail size (approx 1 Cup)

1 Cup chorizo (Spanish dry hot sausage), peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds (I use Palacios Hot)

1 Cup dry lentils, rinsed, picked through and drained

2 medium potatoes, peeled (if you like) and chopped into 1.2 inch cubes (approx. 2 Cups)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (you may use water as well)

1 tsp each – ground cumin, turmeric and oregano OR 1 tsp each – oregano and marjoram OR Tbs dry Italian herbs

Heat oil until it runs quickly and is fragrant. Add onions and stir to coat. After a minute, reduce heat to low. After five minutes start adding, garlic, then carrots, then chorizo. When chorizo begins to release its color, , stir in lentils, potatoes, broth and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender, adding water a cup at a time, if desired. Add spices at the end and salt to taste. Serve as soup with crusty bread, or over rice.

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