Vegetable & Lentil Soup
My goal is to share easy, delicious, and nutritious recipes designed for busy people, like you and me.
Food influences nearly every aspect of our well-being. Healthy eating is essential to energize and nourish, prevent disease, improve mood and sleep, and manage weight. As a health coach, I share with my clients the crucial importance of their food choices.
Beyond its effects on health, a good meal should also nurture the soul. The way it looks and tastes as well as its aromas and textures should engage the senses. A good meal can also bring together family and friends and evoke memories of special people and places.
Among ways to achieve healthier eating, home cooking is one of the most important. Through cooking, we can control the amount of sodium, sugar, and fat in our meals. When we put fresh ingredients together ourselves, we have control over what is going into our food. Home cooking gives us the opportunity to eat the foods we love exactly how we enjoy eating them.
So, when I made this vegetable and lentil soup for my family the other night, I knew I needed to include it in my December 2021 newsletter. It’s super healthy and easy to make - perfect for when you’re busy and hungry and looking for something that’s warm and delicious. It’s a family favorite that I’ve been making for a few years now. It’s satisfying and comforting. It’s exactly what I crave on a chilly day when I want my meal to warm and comfort me and be healthy too.
This recipe can easily be made on the stove top in a large pot or in a slow-cooker. I’ve done it both ways and it is fantastic every time. Using the slow-cooker and putting all the ingredients in the pot in the morning ensures that you will have a warm, healthy, and delicious meal waiting for you at the end of a busy day.
The recipe starts with the usual soup base: onions, garlic, carrots, celery, spices, salt, and broth. Then we make it special by adding butternut squash, potatoes, and tomatoes. And power it up with lots of plant-based protein by adding lentils, split peas, and beans. Adding kale at the end gives it a beautiful, bright color and boosts the overall nutritional content of the soup.
While this simmers, you’ll notice the amazing smells coming from your kitchen. Before adding the kale, either use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree a part of the soup and while leaving some delicious chunks of vegetables.
The instructions are basically to put everything in a pot and let it cook. That’s it. That’s the recipe. So easy. It requires a bit of front-end chopping to prep the vegetables, I think it takes me about 30-45 minutes to cut everything up. Not a bad investment for delicious smells and a nutritious, comforting meal.
The recipe is vegan and gluten-free as written. You can serve it with whole grain bread, a side salad or even over brown rice. My family has been known to top it with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and sometimes I sprinkle mine with nutritional yeast. Whichever method you choose and however you serve it, just be sure to make enough for leftovers. This soup is even better the next day!
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups yellow potatoes, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup green or brown lentils
1 cup yellow split peas (or use more lentils)
8 cups vegetable broth
1 28 oz. can of whole or diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can white beans (I usually use cannellini beans)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
3 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
a shake of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice
In a large pot or saucepan, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes, squash, lentils, and split peas, Italian seasoning, and salt, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Add vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and beans, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
When the potatoes and squash are soft, puree some of the soup either with an immersion blender directly into the pot, or by removing some and using a regular blender.
Stir in the kale and continue to simmer about 2 minutes.
Add a shake of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings as needed.
Slow-cooker recipe – place all the ingredients (except kale and vinegar) in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Puree a some of the soup either with an immersion blender directly into the pot, or by removing some and using a regular blender. Stir in the kale and a little red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice and taste to adjust seasonings (adding more salt, Italian seasonings or acid).
FYI: Lentils are a total superstar when it comes to nutritional power and culinary possibility. Lentils are loaded with vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber. They’re also versatile and easily incorporated into a variety of different dishes. From Indian-inspired recipes like this Curried Potato, Lentil & Kale Stew to Red Lentil Hummus with Middle Eastern flavors, this simple legume is ready to take on bold, delicious flavors.