Since I am always in need of plan-based proteins to supplement my diet, I like preparing lentils in many different ways, with lentil soups, being my favorite way to enjoy them They are easy to prepare and can be made ahead--in fact they are usually better reheated the next day or several days after being made, and they keep well both in the fridge and the freezer.
Ellie Krieger's Lemony Lentil Soup with Greens is both healthy and delicious. I made a few changes--omitting the chicken broth and using veggie stock (and half the amount), adding a potato and some of my new obsession Ras El Hanout (a North African spice mix), increasing the amounts of the veggies and lemon, reducing the sodium, and cooking my kale less. I prefer my kale to be fresh, not too cooked or mushy, and slightly 'toothsome' in texture so I put it in for about the last 10 minutes of cooking time, or when reheating the soup. My changes are in red and explained in the Notes/Results below.
Lemony Lentil Soup with Greens
Adapted From So Easy by Ellie Krieger
(Makes Six--2 cup servings)
2 tsp canola oil (I used coconut oil)
1 small onion, chopped (I used 1 large sweet onion)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (I used 2 medium carrots)
2 stalks celery, chopped (I used 3 large stalks)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4 cloves)
(I added 1 large Yukon Gold potato)
16 oz green or brown lentils
12 cups low-sodium broth, plus more as needed (I used 6 cups low-sodium veggie broth + 5 1/2 cups water + 1/2 cup carrot juice)
1 tsp dried basil (I omitted and used Ras El Hanout)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt (I used about 1/2 tsp salt)
8 cups chopped kale leaves (about 6 oz)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used 4 1/2 Tbsp)
(I added 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (+ more to garnish)
Heat the oil in 6-quart soup pot over medium- high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the carrots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 12 cups of the broth, the lentils,
Reduce the heat to low,
Nutritional Info: Ellie's Recipe--2 cup Serving: 410 calories, 7 g fat (1 g sat fat), 600 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol. Deb's Changes--2 cup Serving: 378 calories, 3g fat, (2.8 sat fat), 403 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 26.9g fiber.
Notes/Results: Great flavor, nicely lemony and bright on the palate with the lemon, lemon zest and splash of sherry vinegar I added. As written, I felt the sodium level was slightly high at 600 mg per serving. Granted, it isn't bad if you were to compare it with canned soup which can run 600-800 mg or more for a 3/4 or 1 cup serving and here you get 2 cups, but I am always looking for ways to add flavor but keep sodium low. Using homemade low-salt broth or reducing the amount of stock you use is a great start. I used veggie stock to make this soup vegan and reduced it by half (that way the soup doesn't taste like veggie broth), adding an equal amount of water plus some carrot juice for color and flavor. I then added extra veggies and aromatics, onion, garlic, lemon, and ras el hanout (it's my new obsession but you could also use curry) to pump up that flavor. I also wait to add any additional salt until I taste the soup at the end rather than just dump a teaspoon (2,325 mg) in. With my changes and flavor boosters, I found I only needed about 1/2 a teaspoon added salt, resulting in cutting about 200 mg sodium per serving.
Deb's Make Ahead Tip: If you are going to prepare this soup ahead and freeze it or keep it in the fridge, I recommend that you leave out the kale until you are ready to eat the soup and just put in the right amount for what you are serving (there is about 1 cup kale per serving) when you are warming it up. That way the kale stays fresh and green and doesn't get soggy, discolor the broth, or make it bitter. I prep my kale and store it separately until I am heating my soup, so it is ready to go and doesn't take extra time.
We are celebrating Ellie's new make-ahead cookbook with our You Have It Made! theme at IHCC this week. You can see the make-ahead dishes everyone made by following the picture links on the post.