Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lemony Lentil Soup with Greens (It's The Year of the Pulse!) From Ellie Krieger

Did you know that the United Nations has declared 2016 to be the "International Year of the Pulse?"  It's for good reason because pulses--dried beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils--are high in protein, fiber, and other key nutrients, are relatively inexpensive, and their growth and production is easier on the environment than meat and other protein-rich foods and takes far less water than many other crops.

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, basil ras el hanout, thyme and salt, and bring to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to low, add the kale, and cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 35 minutes, adding more broth if necessary. Add the kale about 10 minutes before soup is done. Stir in the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and zest and taste, seasoning with sea salt and black pepper as needed. Serve.  

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. 


  1. We're trying to spend less money on food this year, and one great way to do it is to eat more beans! This soup looks so down to earth good.

  2. Love that it is the year of the pulse! That's every year for me:)
    Lentil soup is a great make ahead since, as you said, it's always better the longer it sits. I also love that you made it your own with the ras el hanout. I go through stages where I crave a spice and want to put in everything I can. And funny enough I was thinking the same thing about kale today. I loved it in my salad because it was uncooked (only massaged) and was therefore toothsome and I just find that more satisfying. Plus I like kale for it's freshness and when it's cooked down like spinach it is definitely not as fresh.

  3. Hooray for the year of pulses! Sounds good to me! I love a good lentil soup and love that you made it your own with the ras el hanout. I go through phases like that where I get hooked on a spice and want to put it on nearly everything. Love how you put your soup in a mason jar - very cute! I feel the same regarding kale. I love it toothsome like it was in the salad I shared. The bite is more satisfying than limp cooked-for-ages kale. I also love the freshness it adds when it is toothsome. Great recipe for make ahead as it only gets more delicious the longer it sits.

  4. Hi Deb, I didn't know this is the year of the pulse. Thanks for the info. And the tips about leaving kale out before freezing the soup. :)

  5. Lentils go in soup and also my Rapid Ragu (Nigella recipe) and I love them. We have been trying to eat more of the bean soups this season but my husband has his limits 😀

  6. Liking all the healthful changes you've made to the soup. I would do exactly that to add more flavor, vegetables and less sodium. Great idea. How did you get the changes in the nutritional values? Just curious.

    1. I have a nutritional tracker app (I use My Fitness Pal) that allows me to build a recipe, entering all of the ingredients (and serving size) and then it figures out the basic nutritional data for it. I then compared it to Ellie's numbers from the book. It's nice because if you use a store-bought stock or spice mix it will look up the PLU# so you get the data for that particular brand.

  7. Healthy, nutritious and delicious, all in one bowl! Love it! I should be eating more pulses!


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)