I remember getting all excited as a kid when my mom made this soup. Just the whiff of those lentils cooking was enough to make my mouth water. Mom always used brown lentils, and as a rambunctious three year old I remember calling it “chocolate soup”. My mother would do anything to get me to eat healthy. Growing up chocolate soup became a synonym for lentil soup, and one of the many family stories and jokes. It’s amazing how those little memories of childhood can put a smile on our faces. I’m smiling and remembering all those happy moments as I’m writing this.
Later on in life I learned how nutritious lentils were, so this simple recipe passed down from my mother and her mother, became part of my family’s diet.
The lentil is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, known for its lens-shaped edible seeds. Lentils come in many colors, from yellow and red-orange, to green, brown and black, each one with a slightly different flavor.
With about 30% of their calories from vegetable protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. They are high in dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and minerals, and are a good source of iron (Source).
Even though lentils are highly nutritious, they, like many other vegetables, contain anti-nutritional factors. Lentils contain trypsin inhibitors and are relatively high in phytate. Trypsin is an enzyme involved in digestion, and phytates reduce the bio-availability of dietary minerals. By soaking lentils overnight the phytates can be reduced.
Let’s get to the recipe!
1 cup of Brown/Spanish pardina lentils, picked and rinsed,
1 large chopped carrot,
1 large chopped onion,
1 stalk (rib) of celery chopped,
2 tablespoons of olive oil,
2 litters of water or if you prefer fresh chicken broth,
Salt & pepper to taste.
Add the olive oil into a large dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot but not smoking, add the onions, celery and carrots. Sweat the vegetables for about 4-5 minutes. Add the lentils, broth or water, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high until it boils. Reduce the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes. Serve immediately.