Franco’s lentil soup- a recipe for good health!
It’s a new year; may it be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for you! There are many traditional foods said to bring luck, health and prosperity for the new year from around the world. Many countries celebrate with tasty lentil dishes.
This lucky legume is traditionally eaten in Italy, Brazil, Germany and various other countries throughout the world to ring a new year. In these cultures, lentils signify wealth and prosperity. These legumes, which are likened to little coins, are also an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron and the B vitamins.
So besides the possibility of prosperity, you most definitely will receive a tremendous amount of great nutrition by eating them. And that’s a sure way to prosper!
Lentils are one of my favorite legumes to make a soup with. When combined with cooked greens, another “lucky” way to start the year in countries such as Denmark, and the Southern United States, you will have a delicious soup packed with immune-boosting goodness. I like to add kale when I make this nutrient-rich lentil soup. Kale is very high in vitamins A, C, K, folate as well as the minerals potassium, calcium and zinc. (I prefer using locally grown baby kale that I find at my nearby market. It’s very tender and delicious but any kale will work.) Sounding good already, no?
Now to place this soup in a healthy league of its own I add some ginger, honey, turmeric and cumin. Each one of these additional seasonings adds a tremendous amount of nutritional value and flavor to the soup.
In the recipe below, you will find the deliciously healthy combination of healthy and “lucky” foods that create a brilliant lentil soup that will leave you feeling energized, nourished and happy!
Franco’s Lucky Lentil and Kale Soup
- 1 pound lentils, rinsed and soaked
- 2 cups kale leaves, trimmed from stalk and cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons turmeric
- juice of one small orange or 1/2 large orange.
- 2 strips of orange zest, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6- 8 cups of vegetable stock or water
- salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes (Optional but recommended):
1) Garlic Confit – The garlic adds a key note of flavor, and I highly recommend that you make it. ( see below)
2) Shitake Mushrooms – These mushrooms add an earthiness to this dish that is very calming. ( see below)
3) Carrot Strips – Originally, I added the carrot strips for some color. In the end, they added an element of freshness that works really well with the dish.
- Rinse the lentils and then soak for them 2-3 hours in cool water.
- Heat a large pot. Add the olive oil, onions and the ginger.
- Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent.
- Sprinkle the cumin, turmeric and chopped orange zest into the pot. Stir through and cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the honey and cook until it reduces and becomes thick.
- Deglaze with the orange juice and stir well to scrape up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot.
- Drain and rinse the soaked lentils again. Add to the pot along with 6 cups of stock.
- Stir all the ingredients to combine well. Add more stock if needed. Simmer partly covered for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
- At the very end, stir in the kale and add the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper, if desired.
- Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Immediately serve in warmed bowls with garnishes.
Garlic Confit – Garlic Goodness
Garlic Confit couldn’t be any easier to make. It’s well worth making and in this recipe it adds a delicious element of flavor.
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 head of peeled garlic
Heat oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic; cook over very low heat until soft, about 1 hour. The garlic should not brown. The cloves should be soft and lightly golden in color. Let the garlic cool in the oil. Store in its oil. It will keep in the refrigerator for one month. (The garlic-infused oil can be used in any dish where you use olive oil.)
- 1 pound Shitake mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
- Brush the mushrooms clean. Do not wash. Remove any woody stems and then cut the mushrooms in half
- Once the sauté pan is very hot, add the mushrooms and stir into coat evenly with the oil.
- Lower the heat and let cook slowly over a low flame for about 10 minutes.
- The mushrooms should color and be slightly crisp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with absorbent paper.
- Season the mushrooms and reserve for garnishing the lentil soup.
I wish you a happy, healthy and LUCKY New Year!