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Lentils are not peas or beans but close cousins of the two. All varieties of lentils are very high is phytonutrients, however, some are even better. The tan-colored lentils are an excellent choice, but others are still better. The black lentils are the most nutritious, but are difficult to find in the supermarket. The next variety of nutrition is French (or green) and then red.
They are the heroes of the nutrition world. Inexpensive and versatile, lentils are rich in protein and fiber but low in fat. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals. As a low glycemic index food, lentils are also an ideal source of slow-burning energy that may have additional benefits to human health. Try the lentil loaf for another nutrient packed recipe.
According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, if you have diabetes, lentils are one food you should learn to love. Dietitians report that no matter how much of them you eat, they have only a small effect on the blood glucose levels. Lentils are great for everybody, not just people with diabetes. Rich in protein, high in fibre and packed with nutrients like B vitamins, folate and minerals, this little nutritional giant fills you up. They are also gluten free, easy to prepare (no soaking), quick cooking (15–20 minutes) and inexpensive (so great for feeding the family). All colours and types of dried lentils have a similar low GI value. Although opting for handy canned convenience increases the GI somewhat, lentils are still a very smart carb choice.
GI 26 (red, home cooked)
GI 30 (green, home cooked)
GI 52 (green, canned)
Armenian Lentil Soup
Prep time 30 min Total Time 1 hour Serves: 4
- 1-2 medium garlic cloves
- 1 cup dried lentils, preferably black, green or red
- 4-5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
- 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped pungent red or yellow onion
- 1 red, green, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, with their seeds, or 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 medium unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 TBSP dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 TBSP vinegar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice or ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste
- 1 tsp salt, or more or less to taste
- 4 TBSP chopped Italian parsley or chopped fresh mint for garnish
- Push the garlic through a garlic press and set aside.
- Rinse the lentils and put them in a large pot.
- Add 4 cups broth and the apricots, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients, about 20 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add all remaining ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetable mixture to the lentils and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Adjust the seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.
- Ladle the soup into large bowls, garnish with the chopped herbs and serve.
Variations: Sprinkle the soup with a small amount of orange zest. Substitute chopped chives or cilantro for the parsley.
While both lentils and chickpeas are a good source of protein, the sweet potatoes provide a soft texture and flavor. Kale provides fiber, iron, calcium, and Vitamin C. The use of an immersion blender provide creaminess without the use of dairy. Serve with a salad or sandwich for a complete meal.
Lentil, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup
- 1 container (32 ounce) vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup lentils
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup kale, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- In a medium saucepan, pour in the container of vegetable broth; cook on medium.
- Add lentils, sweet potatoes, and onions and cook until potatoes are soft.
- Add chickpeas and bring to a boil.
- Using an immersion blender, pulse 5-6 times or until half the soup is blended. If you don't have an immersion blender, pour half the soup into an electric blender and pulse until smooth. Pour contents back into pot.
- Add kale and cook an additional 15 minutes or until kale is tender.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into bowls and enjoy!
Even though the title of this recipe is summer, our family eats it all year long. When fresh out-of-the-garden tomatoes are unavailable, I use petite diced canned tomatoes. Consider serving with Cornmeal Cornbread for a gluten-free dinner!
- 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 5 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TBSP chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 cups juicy, chopped fresh tomatoes (or canned)
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup chopped white or portobello mushrooms
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, packed
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in medium pot.
- Add onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin.
- Saute over medium heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients (except garnishes) and stir.
- Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Add more liquid if needed.
- Serve over rice if desired.
- May garnish with cheddar cheese, guacamole, or fresh cilantro.