In the past month we have had a great growth spurt in our tiny kitchen. We have jumped from 1000 jars a week to 2000 jars a week. We have pushed the limits of how long is too long to work and how many hours can we squeeze from one day. Somehow, in the middle of the chaos we are beginning to find balance. For me, spending time with my family gives me balance.
Typically, in the precious time that we are together our conversation always turns to food. Whether we plan for the next meal, discuss our newest food find, or dream about food destinations we never seem to be far from the topic. Recently my sister was telling us about the pot of lentil soup she recently made and wondered if I would like the recipe?? Of course I said yes! I never turn down a recipe. In fact I have a thick and worn binder full of recipes waiting to be tried.
I thought I would share her recipe with you because it is a recipe I might have shared with you early in the Potlicker days. Lentil soup is a comfort food that I never remember my mother making but somehow everyone in the family has their own version of the same recipe.
Jenn, The older sister of Twin & I, has twins of her own and is a registered dietician & professor of nutrition at Florida State University. She has included the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe.
This is one of my trusted go to meals. Now I know a soup of lentils may not sound exciting, but give me a few minutes, this soup will change your mind. My days can be a little hectic. I am a working mom with three year old twins. I want meals that everybody will eat, inexpensive, easy, can be done ahead of time, freezes, reheats etc. As a dietitian I want healthy. Yes, I am a dietitian with a sister who makes jams and jellies and another who makes the most beautiful cakes. I am sure you are now picturing our holiday meals, forks and knives poised for battle, me in the kitchen policing recipes and portion sizes. But we (dietitians) aren’t like that. I swear! We are dietitians because we love food; at least that is what got me here. I try and pick the nutrition battles that will hopefully win the war and keep me and my family healthy. And as I go through different stages in life, those battles change. One day I hope to eat totally organic, but right now that doesn’t fit my grocery budget. I would rather my girls eat a well washed piece of non-organic fruit than organic processed cheesy poufs. I try to stay away from pre-done processed foods, I serve fruits or veggies at every meal and snack and we aim for family dinners. This is a meal that hits the mark as both a mom and a dietitian.
Lentils are relatively easy to find and inexpensive. And nutritionally speaking, well this little guy is high in fiber and protein. At my grocery store they sell a bag of brown lentils with a soup seasoning packet. I toss out the seasoning pack and use the lentils. Brown lentils range in color from light brown to a deep dark brown and only take about 20-30 minutes to cook. Green lentils take longer, about 45 minutes. Red lentils are usually associated with Indian cuisine and look bright yellow when cooked. They take about 30 minutes but will turn mushy if you overcook them.
Serves: 6 heaping 1 ½ cup servings
- 16 oz. sausage – I like to use bulk (not in the casing) Italian, but you can use just about any kind and in the casing is fine, just cut it up into 1-2 inch pieces. I would avoid breakfast with the maple syrup/sweet flavors and the hard sausages like chorizo.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 14oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 16 oz. dry lentils
- 2 14oz cans of chicken broth or water
Brown the sausage in a stock pot over medium high heat, drain off any fat
Add diced onions, garlic, celery, carrots and about a cup of chicken broth or water and give it a stir. Put the lid on the pot and let it sit for a few minutes. Cook until the veggies have softened and you can scrape those brown bits of goodness off the bottom of the pot.
Reduce heat to medium low. Add the lentils, diced tomatoes, liquid and all, bay leaf, chicken broth and 2 cans of water until the lentils are covered.
Cook at a simmer until lentils are soft. Check occasionally and add extra broth or water if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
This recipe is so forgiving you really can’t mess it up. I serve it with a side of whatever vegetable is in season and cornbread with plenty of jam on the side. It also makes a big batch, so you can freeze half for another time.
One and a half cups of soup provides approximately:
-easily convert this to vegan by omitting sausage, use veggie broth and up the ante on the herbs and spices (thyme, salt, pepper)