Sometimes all you are looking for a dish that is simple, satisfying, and easy on your wallet. This dish is all of that and more, and is the first time that I have attempted a lentil soup in the kitchen. In fact, it is among the first times that I have ever eaten lentil anything in our house! The results were nothing short of fabulous and a batch of this soup yielded a week’s worth of delicious lunches just for me. My kids are still stuck on my Pesto Chicken Tortellini Soup as their weekly soup favorite, but this one was perfect for my lunch and helped keep me full until the dinner hour.
If you haven’t cooked with lentils before, you should really give them a try! Unlike dried beans, lentils do not require any pre-soaking overnight prior to being cooked. Instead, most cooks recommend that you first pick over these legumes, and remove any that look broken or damaged. A quick rinse after you have picked out the damaged lentils, and you are ready to go. The ease and minimal prep time for cooking these is why lentils are a wonderful and easy addition to any soup!
Served with this hearty soup is a batch of my whole wheat bread whipped up in my bread machine. This bread is a denser loaf than the white bread, but I have found that whole wheat white flour is a great way to get the heartiness while giving the texture of the bread more of a white texture than a heavy whole wheat. You can find whole wheat white flour in the baking aisle of your supermarket. It is a great way to ease your family into the world of whole grains and yields a loaf that tastes a little more white than whole wheat. This bread is so yummy, smeared with a little butter or honey, and even has a great texture and flavor the second day. That is…if you actually have any leftover!
Lentil Soup (Adapted from AllRecipes)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
4 cups water
1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, and celery; cook and stir tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in lentils, add water and broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.
Low-Fat Whole Wheat Bread Machine Bread (Adapted from Food.com)
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white bread flour (You can substitute the white & whole wheat flours with just 4 cups of whole wheat white flour, if you would prefer)
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Add ingredients to bread machine in the order given, or according to your machine instructions. Set on whole wheat or basic cycle.