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Food of the Month: Lentils

It’s fall again and for me that means soup!  I love homemade soup as the weather starts to get a bit chillier.  Lentil soup is a great way to get your protein, fiber and veggies all in one convenient package.  While store bought varieties are convenient, they often contain added salt and other preservatives.  So consider making  big batch of your own lentil soup and freeze it for later!

What Are They?

Lentils are legumes related to beans and peanuts.  They originated in the near East and were likely one of the first domesticated crops in this area.  They don’t require soaking like most beans which makes them easier to use in recipes. They come in many varieties including red, green/tan, orange, black and golden.  The green/tan variety is most common and contains the highest amount of fiber of all the lentils.

Health Benefits:

Lentils are 26% protein and a 1/2 cup contains 60% of the RDA of iron, 67% of the RDA of Vitamin B1 and 31 grams of fiber.

How To Store:

They can be kept pretty much anywhere that is dry and will last for a very long time.

How to Use:

Cooks suggest rinsing the lentils and picking out any stones before cooking.  They can be boiled to stand alone or put into soups, stews or even tomato sauce to serve as a meat replacement.  Here is a great lentil soup recipe that can be prepared quickly in the Instant Pot or prepared a bit more slowly in a slow cooker. Enjoy!

 

Instant Pot Lentil Soup with Slow Cooker Variation

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. Water or vegetable broth

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed

1 small sweet potato or butternut squash, peeled and cubed (frozen will also work)

2 medium carrots, cubed

2-3 stalks of celery, diced

2 medium zucchini or squash, diced or cut into 1/8 inch rounds

1 cup lentils (can be a blend of different types)

5 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. marjoram

½ tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried rosemary

¼ cup nutritional yeast

salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

Instant Pot:

  • Turn the instant pot on the sauté function and sauté onion in water or vegetable broth until onion is translucent. Add garlic and sauté a few minutes more.
  • Turn off the sauté function and add rest of ingredients except nutritional yeast and salt. Put the lid on, press manual button for 10 minutes.
  • Once finished allow pressure to come down naturally.
  • Stir in nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Slow Cooker Variation: Toss all ingredients in and cook on low for 7-9 hours.

 

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