Tag Archives: lentils

‘Souper’ Easy, Hearty and Healthy Lentil Soup

7 Jan

Celery, carrots, and onion are a trio commonly known as a ‘mirepoix.’ During the winter, I like to make sure my kitchen is always stocked with these three staple ingredients which together form the basis for a wide variety of soups and stews. You’d be surprised how long celery and carrots will last in the fridge. If they start to wilt, store them in a bowl of cold water and watch them spring back to life. It’s like magic!

Mirepoix

We’re one week into 2013 and so far I’ve managed to keep my New Year’s resolution. I cooked one of my favourite hearty soups yesterday afternoon, a soup that my Mom first made during my university years. It brings back fond memories; years of dismal cooking spotted with frozen homemade meals that I would always save for when I was craving a taste of home.

This isn’t your ordinary lentil soup. Sweet potato chunks are little gems of bliss (I’ve been known to pick out all of the pieces from the pot!) and contrast nicely with the robust cumin, coriander, and oregano. It’s thick, hearty, and an easy one-dish meal.  Bonus: it makes a LARGE pot, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers plus several portions that can be frozen.

Now I get to sit back and relax because lunch for the week is made!

Fundalentilly delicious!

Nom nom nom

Fundalentil Soup
(from Crazy Plates)

Feel free to substitute the can of tomato soup for a can of tomato paste + a bit of sugar or honey for just the right amount of sweetness.  Add the water or broth last.  My soup pot is not quite large enough to hold all of the ingredients so I often use a fraction of the fluid at first, then add the rest once I’ve eaten a bowl or two.

1 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups low-fat chicken or vegetable broth, preferably low-sodium
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (preferably no-salt-added)
1 can (10-3/4 oz) reduced-fat tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups dried brown or green lentils
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes (I left the skin on this time)
2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp each ground coriander and salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups packed, chopped, fresh spinach (I like to use an entire 227 g bag of spinach)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 or 4 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients, except spinach. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add spinach and simmer for 15 more minutes.  Serve hot.

Makes 12 servings.  Per serving: 198 calories, 2 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 12 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 12 g fibre, 355 mg sodium.

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Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Red Lentil Soup with Ginger

27 Oct

With the weather now getting chillier, I’ve been craving soup.  More specifically, a hearty split pea soup.  I decided to pick up a package of green split peas on my way home from work yesterday so that I could whip up a soup for dinner.  First stop: Metro.  No green split peas in sight.  Afer perusing the price tags on the shelf, I realized that this particular Metro does not even SELL green split peas.  Geez.  I then swung by the Sobey’s upstairs that just opened last week.  Green split peas  = Sold out.  Oh the joys of downtown grocery stores.  On a related note, I also wanted to buy canned diced tomatoes and there was only one brand available… and they were charging $2.59 per can!!!! Outrageous!

Needless to say, I did not have soup for dinner last night.  Tonight was a different story, though.  I had red lentils on hand, along with a couple of sweet potatoes that have seen better days.  A search for “red lentil soup” led me to a recipe for a curried sweet potato, carrot, and red lentil soup with ginger. YUM.  You must make this soup!  Incredibly tasty, plus it’s full of heart-healthy soluble fibre (along with lots of other good stuff).  The spice from the curry powder perfectly balanced the sweetness of the sweet potato and carrots.

I was also really excited to use my not-so-new immersion blender for the first time.  I don’t know if I will go so far as to say that it was my best purchase ever, but it was much easier (and cleaner) than pureeing soup in batches using a food processor.  I’m definitely looking forward to making more soups this winter!

Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Red Lentil Soup with Ginger

Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Red Lentil Soup with Ginger
(from DinnerwithJulie.com)

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup dry red lentils, rinsed several times to remove excess starch
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (approx 2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock, preferably low-sodium
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, sweet potato, carrots, curry powder, and stock, along with 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add yogurt, season with salt and pepper to taste, and puree soup using an immersion blender.  Alternatively, allow soup to cool slightly then transfer it in batches to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 220 kcal, 2.2 g fat, 8 g fibre

Don’t Judge A Coconut Milk By Its ‘Title’

29 Jul

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself motivation to cook many of the recipes that I’ve been collecting over the past year or two.  I have a fixation with seeking out healthy recipes but I collect far more than I cook, and so the pile grows…

The other night I tackled a recipe for a spicy vegetable curry that I clipped from the July 2010 issue of Chatelaine magazine.  Instead of purchasing a large bottle of Indian curry paste that would sit unused in my fridge, I decided to whip up my own version based on a little bit of research and the spices I had on hand.  I was pleasantly surprised– despite my makeshift curry paste, the dish turned out quite nicely.  Next time I think I will increase the number of eggplants (Japanese eggplants are one of my favourites– they have an amazing texture) and throw in some tofu for a little extra protein.

As a side note, while shopping for coconut milk I made an interesting discovery.  Despite being almost double the price, light coconut milk has always been my go-to since it’s a healthier alternative to the full-fat version.  But… lo and behold, this is not entirely the case!  Light will almost always be lowest in calories and in fat, but not necessarily by much.  For example, the regular version of brand #1 ($1.49 for a can) contained a whopping 120 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving while the light version of brand #1 ($2.49) contained only 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the label of brand #2 (which only came in regular) and noticed that it only contained 50 calories and 4 grams of fat in an identical serving size … and was the cheapest one of all at $1.29 per can.

The moral of the story?  You can’t judge a coconut milk (or any food item, for that matter) by its title.  Always read the Nutrition Facts Panel!

Summer Vegetables with Spicy Coconut Curry

Summer Vegetables with Spicy Coconut Curry
(from Chatelaine magazine, July 2010)

1/2 cup red lentils
500 g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp Indian curry paste, preferably biryani (or make your own, recipe below)
200 mL coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
2 Japanese eggplants
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
lemon wedges*
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Combine lentils with 2.5 cups of water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and boil uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water 1 inch deep and bring to a boil.  Add green beans and steam, covered, until tender-crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Drain beans and set aside.
  2. Mix curry paste with 1 tbsp water and add to simmering lentils.  Stir in coconut milk and salt.  Simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. While lentils simmer, slice eggplants into quarters lengthwise, then into 2-inch wedges. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes. Add eggplant, skin-side up.  Cook until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add green beans and toss to combine.
  4. Divide eggplant mixture between 4 bowls and top with lentil mixture.  Garnish with lemon and cilantro.  Can be served with toasted naan or over top rice.

*I didn’t think omitting the lemon would be a big deal, but the lentil mixture really needed a bit of acidity. I didn’t have lemons or lemon juice on hand so I used a few teaspoons of white wine vinegar. It made a big difference!

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 250 kcal, 11 g fat, 8 g fibre, 310 mg sodium

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Homemade Indian Curry Paste  (Makes 2 tbsp)

1/2 tbsp each cumin and coriander
heaping 1/4 tsp each turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika
pinch of salt
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp white vinegar

Mix spices in a small bowl.  Add garlic and grated ginger, mix well.  Add vinegar, mix well.

Spinach Lentil Salad

2 May

This blog is not all about spinach, despite the name, and yet oddly enough my first post is a recipe that includes (drumroll please)… spinach.  Surprise!  Totally unintentional but I happened to have some on hand and it’s such a versatile (and healthy!) ingredient.

I don’t usually use canned lentils but I had some leftover from a lentil cookie recipe that I recently whipped up (more on that another day).  I’d imagine the recipe would work just as well with dried lentils cooked in boiling water.

Spinach Lentil Salad

Spinach Lentil Salad


Spinach Lentil Salad

1/3 cup light vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 can (19 oz) lentils, drained and rinsed well
1 green onion, minced  (approx 1/4 cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2-3 tbsp raisins
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, coarsely chopped

  1. Combine lentils, green onion, carrot, raisins, and spinach in a medium bowl.
  2. Toss with light vinaigrette and let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving to allow flavours to meld.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 180 kcal, 4.2 g fat, 9 g fibre, 85 mg sodium

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Light Vinaigrette (from “Power Eating”)

1/2 cup no-salt added chicken or vegetable stock (or 1/2 cup water + a few dashes each of onion powder and garlic powder)
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp salt

  1. In a jar, combine all ingredients.  Secure lid and shake to mix well.
  2. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes approx 3/4 cup.  Per 1 tbsp serving: 36 kcal, 4 g fat, 55 mg sodium