Red lentils are funny little buggers: they start out a pretty coral/orange color, but then when you cook them they turn golden yellow!
They're also rich in protein -- did you know that lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp? Plus they contain a good amount of folate and vitamin B1...and if that isn't enough, lentils also are very diabetic friendly because they have incredibly low levels of readily digested starch and high levels of slowly digested starch. How about that?!
I've been making this soup for over 20 years, and it's always been my go-to easy-off-the-top-of-my-head soup, and one that I consistently sold out of in my first restaurant. It's rich and hearty enough to make a meal out of.
Red Lentil Soup
Here's What You Need:
4 Tbsp. butter or cold pressed coconut oil
1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely minced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 stalks celery, coarse chopped
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4â slices
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 large bay leaf
one shake of red pepper flakes
2 cups pre-soaked red lentils (do this a day ahead), picked over and rinsed until water runs clear
8 cups broth or water
2 bouillon cubes if using water (I use Rapunzel Vegetarian Bouillon)
Optional: Finely minced ham hock meat
DAY BEFORE: Put lentils in a bowl and cover with filtered water. This drastically removes phytates (components that hinder the absorption of vital minerals).
*This step is totally optional, btw! If you want soup today, just use the lentils right out of the bag. Soaking them is for nutritional purposes, as mentioned above.
Cook the carrots and onions in the butter over med high heat until the onions are soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes (this is your mirepoix). Add the garlic and sautÃ© approx. 1 minute more (you will smell the garlic). Add the ground thyme and again cook about 1 more minute to release the oils from the thyme.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are mushy and falling apart, approx. 45 min. Even though the lentils start out orange, they turn golden yellow when cooked and resembles yellow split pea soup.
That's it --ridiculously easy! Serve with a dollop of rice to make a really hearty meal.
Makes 8 hearty servings.
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