Less Noise, More Green: Frugal and Healthy Meals : Curried Lentil Soup

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Frugal and Healthy Meals : Curried Lentil Soup

 For those of you who may have read yesterday's guest post on spinning with a drop spindle early in the day, we have added two short video tutorials which really demonstrate the technique well. Be sure to scroll down and revisit the post if you missed them.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be a trying time for our digestive systems! I'm not just talking about the increase in calories, but the amount of rich foods we eat along with all the stress of the Holidays, can make us really sluggish.

To try to offset the rich food, December seems the right time to cook simple, healthy, uncomplicated meals that focus on vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses. A little balance is needed and appreciated by our stomachs!

Another reason to keep it simple is budgetary. December is the month I am trying to balance my food budget for the year, while cooking up lots of Holiday meals! Frugal dishes help to keep my grocery bill in check and simple keeps my prep time to a minimum. This puts lentils center stage in my kitchen.

Lentils have the reputation of being bland 'hippy' food, and they can be bland and boring, especially if they are over cooked. The key to cooking with lentils is to use the right variety for the kind of recipe you are making. Green lentils need to be soaked over night before cooking. I use them in stews, but watch they don't get get mushy by over cooking them.

For soups, I like red lentils. They are very easy to prepare, need no soaking and cook very quickly. When cooked, they will be mushy, but in pureed soups, this is a plus and adds great texture to the soup.

Here is the recipe for my favorite red lentil soup. It is so simple and is delicious as is, but you can make it fancy with add-ons, if you want. It keeps in the fridge really well. I often make this on Monday and eat it for lunch all week. It also freezes beautifully.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

3 tsp. curry powder, or more to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5+ cups hot chicken stock
1 1/2 cups red lentils
28 oz can crushed tomatoes

In a soup pot,saute the onions and garlic in the oil, until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder and cook another minute. Add the hot broth and the lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low boil. 5 cups of broth will give you a thick soup, so add more broth is you like a thinner consistency. Cover and let cook for about twenty minutes until the lentils are cooked. Add the tomatoes and warm through.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Leave a little texture or process until completely smooth. You can also use a blender to puree, working in small batches.

Try this soup with one or more of these garnishes:

* Steamed cauliflower, cut into very small florets
* Cashews, crushed into small pieces
* Sauted or raw green onions
* Fried ginger strips (cut fresh ginger into very thin match sticks, saute in hot oil until crispy)
* Plain yogurt

Serve with naan or crusty bread. I enjoy this soup with a grated carrot salad.

What kind of non holiday meals are you preparing this month?

See you in the kitchen,



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