I have become increasingly aware lately that lentils are a food that many people don't know what to do with. For those looking to include more plant-based protein into their diets, increase fibre, go veg, get jacked or trim down, lentils are a food that I would HIGHLY recommend. They're also dirt cheap if you buy them dried! Are you convinced yet?
This recipe had me dancing around my kitchen in delight (this is normal - right?). The bright colour was exactly what was necessary on a cloudy day, the brightness of the cilantro and the hint of citrus REALLY did it for me, and I think you're going to like it too. It keeps well in the fridge for about 3 days or can be frozen as well, so it's a great option to make ahead of time for the week. I recommend making a double batch while you're at it! This soup could also be served as a more of a curry with some brown rice on the side since it is on the thicker side. Pretend it's a curry, get some Naan bread (or sprouted grain bread) and call it a day!
You might be asking, can I just used canned lentils? Well yes, you sure can. Look for BPA free cans if you're choosing this route. I prefer dried as they lack preservatives, added refined salts, BPA, create less packaging waste and are most cost effective. But listen up about why specifically SOAKING your legumes is a great thing to do.
WHY SHOULD I SOAK MY LENTILS?
Although many recipes indicate that you do not have to soak your lentils, I recommend that you do. Soaking them helps to break down an anti-nutrient called Phytic Acid. Soaking all of your legumes helps to increase the digestibility of them. You will often hear people say that eating beans or legumes makes them gassy or upsets their stomach. Soaking them before cooking can greatly decrease this side effect. While all nuts, seeds, grains and legumes contain phytic acid to a varying degree, it can be decreased greatly by soaking. Phytic Acid affects the body by blocking the absorption of minerals iron and zinc. This is important to note for those of you who are vegetarian as these are often minerals that can be become deficient or just hard to get in your diet if you're not mindful of it. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of these minerals during the duration of that specific meal. Spouting and fermentation are also techniques that reduce the phytic acid content of foods. Soaking also helps to decrease the cooking time of your legumes, which is a bonus for all you out there who have other things to do than watch your lentils cook (which is only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry).
(Makes 4 small servings)
- 1 cup dried lentils (soaked for 2 hours in 2 cups of water)
- 3 cups water
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube (MSG free)
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 large stalk celery, chopped
- 1 small bulb fennel, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- himalayan or sea salt
- fresh pepper
- Measure out dried lentils, put in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of water. Soak for 2 hours. Rinse the lentils well and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large pot. Add in the onion and shallot. Saute until soft. Add in the garlic. Saute until fragrant.
- Add in the carrot, celery, fennel, chilli powder, garam masala, and ginger. Cook the vegetables and stir well for approximately 15 minutes. This allows the spices to open up and become fragrant.
- Add in 3 cups of water and the bouillon cube. Bring the mixture to a boil and dissolve the bouillon cube. Add in the lentils. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Mix in the coconut milk, cilantro and lime juice. Season with fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.
- Using an immersion/hand blender, blend the soup down until there are no large chunks remaining. I left mine with some texture, but this could be put in a large blender and pureed until smooth if preferred.
- Serve topped with fresh cilantro, or a swirl of coconut milk if desired.
- Feast away!
Final note: A serious lesson I learned in the process, do not wear white when you're making this soup. Actually, just don't wear white when you're working with turmeric EVER. Just saved you a trip to the dry cleaners, or your shirt a trip to the garbage can.