Red Lentil Soup: the rival number one of ready-made soups
Time: prep. 5 min
cook. 15/20 min
Difficulty: very easy
Yields: 2 portions
It’s true, when it comes to mentioning soups and minestrone, I never say no!
Summer or winter for me is practically indifferent, as if I had sworn allegience to soup, I always find a way to serve a soup.
But it must also be said that this red lentil soup is able to conquer the palates of those who have never had a passion for soups in general; moreover it is a suitable dish for every season: in winter steaming and comforting, in summer cold and refreshing.
Obviously to be part of the menus of CHE Food Revolution simple goodness or versatility are not enough.
Red lentils are naturally Cheap, Healthy and Ethical; as the title indicates “a poor dish but rich in ingredients” of high biological value, i.e. protein, mineral salts (such as iron, magnesium and potassium) and even dietary fiber.
But the extreme easiness of preparing this soup, makes the purchase of ready-made soups practically useless; they always contain too much salt, fat or other ingredients that you would not put on your plate. Besides not using any resources for packaging materials is another plus for choosing this tasty and nutrient rich soup. What else a nature lover would desire more?
100 grams of red lentils, dry
approx. 500 ml of water or veggie broth
1 celery stalk
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for cooking
1 big onion baked in the oven (optional: the soup is also excellent without)
a dozen or so wholemeal croutons (optional)
the juice of half a lemon (optional: but I would like you to try this combination very tasty for me and also very useful to increase the absorption of iron*)
1 tablespoon of raw extra virgin olive oil for garnish
Beethoven said that “Only the pure in heart can cook a good soup”.
But it’s not true, with a bit of imagination and willingness to experiment, everyone can be able to create a masterpiece: especially, this soup is so good and easy to prepare that even Cinderella’s stepmother would have succeeded.
Wash the lentils with care and do not stop until the washing water becomes limpid. As I do with all legumes, I let them soak for at least 2 hours, even if the lentils don’t really need it for cooking: the reason for this step is to eliminate part of the phytates, naturally present in them.
Put a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a pot with high edges (personally I use my good old pressure cooker).
Add the onions, carrots and celery cut into cubes, cook them for 2 minutes then pour the red lentils; cover with cold water or vegetable broth if you have it.
About 20 minutes after boiling, the soup is ready; with the pressure cooker 10 minutes would be more than enough: you will realize that the lentils are cooked when they are no longer ‘al dente’.
If you like a velvety effect, you can make the red lentil soup more creamy by using an immersion blender.
In Turkey but also here in Portugal it is not uncommon to start the meal with soup; this smart tactic of poor countries can be very useful both to reduce hunger and to keep the excess kilos under control; but also to consume the right amount of food and therefore be sustainable in our eating habits.
The dish you see in the picture if served together with a rich bowl of salad (if you wish, with a slice of wholemeal bread) would be more than enough to satiate and nourish an adult who has a sedentary life but still wanting to be careful with the calories ingested; on the contrary, if you are more active or already in good physical condition, you can reduce the amount of soup to two thirds and add a main course of vegetable origin to your menu: such as vegetarian patties or baked mushrooms; always together with a salad served with a generous lemon juice, to improve the absorption of iron*.
The vegetables in the photo were not cooked specifically for this meal: for greater sustainability it is good to implement in our habits the use of the oven, by optimizing its functioning.
In fact, in this specific case I had taken the opportunity to bake them before the bread; in this way you get an important reduction in consumption and consequent less pollution of the environment (and less swollen bills of course): having vegetables ready to use is an excellent strategy for sustainable cooking.
For bread you need more than 230 degrees Celsius and in case you have to make a cake, for example, I would start baking with the latter: otherwise the oven would be too hot for baking cakes or cookies which would require a temperature range around 180°C.
So let’s see an optimized type of baking: I set the oven at 180° and when it is still cold I put the vegetables that I have in my fridge filling one or two pans, because the vegetables don’t need a specific “heat” requirement. Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, if ready I take them away and insert the cake batter (or something else for which the baking temperature is important: keep in mind that if your “batter” is something salty and the vegetables are not yet cooked, you can simply bake everything together and gradually manage the phases). When it is baked, I increase the degrees making the oven ideal for bread. In case you have to bake some patties, flans or other, you can always proceed together with the bread, or immediately after.
It just takes a little bit of organization, but certainly doing so you will not lose any watts along the way and the world will thank you
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You will notice that I have garnished the red lentil soup with baked onions; you can put anything you like, for example cheese, a mixture of herbs, croutons and so on, or simply nothing! But remember that a drizzle of raw oil is mandatory.
And the reheated soups? They’re always welcome!
Bon appétit and good revolution to all
(*) Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. (2004). Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 74(6):403-419.