Now that fall has arrived and there is a chill in the air, I start to think about cooking warming soups. And lentil soup is my son’s favorite, so I make it often. There are many things that I like about making soup. First, they are simple to prepare and I can leave them to simmer while I help my son with his homework and wait for my husband to arrive for dinner. Second, it is easy to add lots of fresh veggies to soup and really pack in the nutritional value. And I find that if I want to introduce my son to a new vegetable, adding it to a soup where the flavors all meld together is the easiest way to do it. Finally, soups are ideal for making once and eating many times. When I cook soup, I make a large pot with the intention of freezing the leftovers to use for lunches or on busy weeknights for a quick meal that will be ready in minutes.
A few notes about this recipe that make it different from the typical lentil soup. The first is that I grind up dried wild porcini mushrooms into a powder and add it to the soup. This gives the soup a deep, rich almost “meaty” flavor, without adding any meat. I also do this in my vegetarian chili recipe. I like Belaria wild porcini mushrooms, which I find at Fairway Markets.
The second is I add a small piece of wakame seaweed (I use Eden which you can purchase here). Similar to the dried mushrooms, adding the wakame to the soup gives it an extra “umami” or savory taste. Wakame is an excellent source of iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid function, and it contains folate, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, E and K.
The last variation is that I use sprouted green lentils. You can make this recipe with regular green lentils and it will taste great. If you are using regular lentils, I recommend soaking them overnight and be sure to discard the soaking water and rinse the lentils before adding them to the soup. However, I prefer sprouted lentils because sprouting makes the lentils easier to digest and boosts the lentil’s nutritional profile, increasing the availability of vitamins and micronutrients. I like truRoots sprouted green lentils, which you can purchase here.
As for the health benefits, lentils are low in calories, high in nutrition and contain virtually no fat. They are a great source of fiber, lean protein, folate and iron. And fiber-rich foods like lentils may improve digestive health, decrease the risk of certain kinds of cancers, help reduce your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease and keep your blood sugar stable.
Now that you know all of the benefits of eating lentils, I hope you give this recipe a try. Enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, chopped
- 7 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2½ cups dried sprouted green lentils (one 10-ounce bag)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 0.7 ounces dried wild porcini mushrooms, blended to a powder
- 2 inches dried wakame, soaked in water for 5 minutes until soft then sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
- salt to taste
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil.
- Sauté the onions, mushrooms and carrots in olive oil for about 10 minutes, until the onions are clear the carrots are slightly tender.
- Add the vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes and lentils and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Stir in the thyme, pepper, dried mushrooms, wakame and tamari.
- Cover and cook until the lentils are soft, about an hour.
- Add salt to taste and cook for another 5-10 minutes.