I hope everyone has survived Blizzard 2016, and grocery store shelves have been replenished. Although we missed the storm up here in NY (when have we ever *missed* a winter storm, ever?), I sure ate like I was going to be shoveling 4 feet of snow. By that I mean, I was ALL about the salty, cheesy, and junk food this weekend for some reason. I LOVE me some salty food, and I definitely indulged this weekend with salt and pepper kettle chips, pizza, and a few cheese quesadillas (at least I used up some leftover corn tortillas and cheese!). I’ve been super stressed out at work recently and stress = me craving my favorite comfort foods, salty carbs. However. It’s now Monday, the start of a new week, and a promise to myself that I’ll be eating healthier and more complete meals. Enter one of my favorite healthy, filling and crazy cheap dishes. Lentil Soup.
I love lentils. As referenced in this post, they are one of the first “beans/legumes” that I ever really tried and liked. Red lentils are especially great because they break down beautifully, as they are already split. They soak up liquid like crazy, and although I started with two cups of stock, I ended up added an additional cup at the end to achieve the thick yet still soupy consistency I was after. Before adding the extra cup, I used an immersion (stick) blender to blend about a shy quarter of the soup. Just 15-20 seconds of pureeing, and it allows the soup to thicken up beautifully and have a nice mouth feel.
This soup is spicy. I had a can of fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles languishing in my cabinets, and I decided to toss it in, especially since the recipe I used as inspiration used tomatoes as well. I normally don’t find fire roasted tomatoes spicy, I usually find them with a hint of smoky flavor that adds depth to a dish. However, this brand was super spicy and added a great kick that I absolutely LOVED. The brand I used is here. If you want to use regular fire roasted tomatoes, please feel free.
Lentils are great because they are full of fiber and protein, and are a quick-cooking bean. This soup comes together in a about a half and hour (plus prep) and tastes like it’s been cooking for much longer! It’s also perfect for dairy free, nut free, gluten free and vegan consumption. Love that.
spicy mexican lentil soup.
adapted from Whole Foods.
1 cup split red lentils
3 cups vegetable stock (1 cup reserved)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 10 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles, undrained* (see note)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper (to taste)
juice of 1/2 a lime
Heat a 3 quart pan or pot over medium heat with teaspoon of oil. Once oil is shimmering, add onion, garlic and celery to pan. Stir and reduce heat to medium low and cook, for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender and translucent, being careful not to get color on them. Once soft, add in cumin, chili powder, oregano, turmeric, salt and pepper, and stir well, cooking for an additional minute.
Add tomatoes, lentils and two cups of vegetable broth. Stir well and increase heat to a boil. Once lightly boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to stir. Lentils will soak up a lot of the liquid.
Once cooked through, use an immersion blender to roughly puree about a 1/5-1/4 of the soup. Alternatively, transfer about 3/4 cup to a blender and then return to pot. Mix together, and add remaining cup of broth to thin out to your desired consistency (I used the full additional cup). Check seasoning and adjust to your taste.
Squeeze fresh lime juice over just before serving. Serves 4-6.
*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible*
NOTE: *The can of tomatoes with chiles I used was very spicy. If they don’t sell ‘fire roasted’ where you live, you can use regular tomatoes with green chiles and add in a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat. Also, you could seed and minced up a jalapeno, and saute that in the first step. If you don’t like things spicy, use regular diced tomatoes.
*The can I had was 10 ounces, however most diced tomatoes come in 14 ounce cans. That would be perfectly fine to substitute; just know it will yield a slightly chunkier soup.