In place of one of our quick “Weeknight Dinners,” today we have a recipe for a delicious lentil soup that is very simple to make but takes a bit of time to come together. It’s from one our favorite contributors, Maria Balice. — Tara
Eat more healthily. Save money. Cook more meals at home. Check. Check and check. If these were your New Year’s resolutions, the recipe below for lentil soup fits the bill – it’s cheap, easy to make and exceptionally healthy. A package of lentils is about a buck, as are most of the other ingredients (besides the olive oil), and the legumes packs a powerful nutrition punch, providing protein, dietary fiber and folate. In fact, southern Italians eat lentil soup at midnight on New Year’s eve because it’s supposed to provide prosperity in the year to come – probably a nod to how economical it is to make the meal. And since one of my resolutions was to write more for Go West Young Mom, this recipe comes at the perfect time.
1 16 oz. package of dried lentils
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
12 cups of water
3 celery stalks – chopped
2 large carrots – chopped
3 garlic cloves – crushed
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pick through the lentils (sometimes stones, seeds or split peas sneak into the package). Rinse thoroughly in a colander. Place lentils in a stock pot with 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place lentils back in pot with 12 cups of fresh water. Add celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves. Bring to boil and then simmer for about one hour – until water reduces and soup thickens. Stir in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste to finish the soup. The olive oil adds creaminess without adding much fat.
Maria Balice is a public relations consultant who lives in Elmhurst with her husband and two adventurous-eating sons (well, sometimes). Maria started cooking at age 10 under the tutelage of the best chef she knows, her Italian mom.