This hearty lentil soup healthy dinner recipe is heavy enough to be enjoyed as a meal on its own. This is a comforting dish that will lift your spirits up and make you feel better. Made with lentils, water, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, tomato paste, bay leaves, dried oregano, wine vinegar, and salt pork, and seasoned with salt and pepper, this hearty lentil soup is big in flavor, texture aroma and color. A bowl of this hearty lentil soup is sure to put a smile on your face.
Also known as daal, lentils are a member of the legume family and are densely packed with nutrition although they are small in size. Lentils healthy meals are a good source of B vitamins, protein, and minerals and contain no fat. They are often used as meat substitutes because of their high protein content and especially loved by vegetarians and vegans. Lentils are a staple food in India and are often used in making soups, curries, and stews. They are also often added to salads. Lentils come in different sizes and colors. There are red orange, brown, and green lentils. Red and orange lentils cook fast and will take about 20 minutes to cook while brown and green lentils will take around 45 minutes, and hold their shape and texture better.
Ingredients: 2 cups lentils, 8 cups water, ½ cup chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, minced, ½ cup chopped carrots, ½ cup chopped celery, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 bay leaves, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, 3 tablespoons wine vinegar, ½ cup diced fried salt pork
Wash and pick over the lentils. Place them in a pot with 2 cups of water and let them soak overnight. Drain. Pour the oil into a Dutch oven or soup pot. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Add the lentils, 6 cups fresh water, salt, pepper, tomato paste, bay leaves, and oregano and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until lentils are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup, if desired. Add vinegar and salt pork.
Before cooking lentils, you need to clean and sort them out because dirt, small stones and debris often find their way with a batch of lentils. To clean the lentils, scatter them on a clean surface and pick off any debris. Cover the lentils in water and drain using a colander or sieve, with holes small enough for the lentils not to go through. You can soak the lentils to soften them and make them easier to cook. Lentils will cook at different times depending on the age of the legumes. Older legumes will cook longer because they have less moisture.