My husband is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. You give him any kind of meat and a baked potato and he’s a happy camper. So it probably comes as no surprise that the organic food journey in our house has not been without resistance. But now that we’ve been doing what we’re doing for over a year, and he’s seen the results in the health of our children and ourselves, he’s on board.
To give you a glimpse into what I mean, after our first daughter was born, we both got sick all the time. I had the flu and more nasty colds in the year and a half after she was born than I had had in the prior 10 years. Nowadays, with two kids in full-day daycare three days/week, we have been able to get through the past year and a half without flu shots, and nothing worse than croup cough. That means no strep throat, no ear infections, no nasty flu bugs. And that also means very few co-payments at the doctor’s office (hallelujah!).
So over the past year I’ve been cooking. A lot. Mostly healthy, organic meals for our family. And I’ve come to three realizations – 1) Every time we eat out, I am disappointed in both the quality of the food and the price that we pay for the food that we eat. And by the way, we have yet to find a good meal out with organic food or even a few organic ingredients; 2) I love having leftovers in the house. When I cook, I usually make enough to last 2-3 meals which means less stress for me the rest of the week; 3) When we eat in, we tend to eat less meat. I cook with more black beans, lentils, navy beans, quinoa, brown rice and other healthful foods. Stuff I’d never order if I went out to eat.
Many moons ago, I used to make a mean lentil soup. I think I was in my late teens/early twenties. Unfortunately, being the bonehead that I am sometimes, I didn’t write down or remember the recipe over the years. I have tried – to no avail- to recreate that darn recipe a half dozen times since. And every single time I’ve ended up with a bland lentil soup.
I finally found a lentil soup recipe worthy of repeating and sharing. And the best part? Lentils are extremely healthy! They’re a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. They also help manage blood-sugar disorders as their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after consuming a meal. Lentils also provide good amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein. And you get all of this with virtually no fat. So without further ado..
Hearty Lentil Soup
2 T olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on top of soup in bowls
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can (~15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 lb dry lentils
11 c low-salt chicken broth (~2 1/2 large (32 oz) cartons of chicken broth or if you prefer a vegetarian soup, you could substitute vegetable broth)
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 c dried elbow pasta (I used quinoa elbow pasta)
1 c shredded Parmesan
Heat the olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery.
Next, add garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute until all of the vegetables are tender, ~7 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices.
Simmer until the tomato juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally (~8 minutes). Add the lentils and mix to coat. Then, add the broth and thyme sprigs and stir. I tied my thyme sprigs together with cooking string to make them easier to remove afterwards.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the soup starts boiling, cover the pot and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, ~30 minutes.
Stir in pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm, ~8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve with bread.
And did I mention that the house smells divine? Sure wish I could convey this aroma in a blog post. Maybe that will be web 4.0?