Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eastern European Lentil Soup

This soup is hearty and delicious, perfect for those cold winter days. It's a fairly quick soup to make and I often make it for lunch. It's based on a recipe I found in an issue of Vegetarian Times and it's so good that I thought I should share it. Just a note, I've found that this soup doesn't really need salt when you make it with stock. Also, this recipe uses pink lentils. They cook in about half the time, with a much milder flavor, than your standard green and brown ones. You can usually find them whenever you find bulk foods.

The recipe calls for diced tomatoes, but I actually think I prefer crushed tomatoes in this, since you get a little bit of tomato goodness in every bite. I usually add it at the end so the lentils don't get hard. Swirling in a bit of vegan yogurt adds a nice tang to the soup (I often use Wildwood Unsweetened Plain Soyogurt), but it's also good without.

This soup is also killer with some cooked quinoa stirred in, and it boosts the nutritional value way up! I also find it helps keep me fuller for longer when I add it. Also, this recipe uses cumin, but it would also be good if you substituted it with some curry powder. Double this recipe to get a nice, big pot full.

Eastern European Lentil Soup:
3/4 c. pink lentils
1/2 to 1 yellow onion, diced (sometimes I use a whole onion)
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. cumin
1/2 Tb. agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 Tb. red wine vinegar
3 bay leaves
3 c. veggie stock
1 c. water
Plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt

1. Rinse and sort through the pink lentils.

2. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add cumin and lentils to the skillet and stir until the cumin is fragrant and the lentils are coated with oil.

3. In a soup pot, add the lentil/onion mixture with the agave nectar/maple syrup, bay leaves, stock, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft and sort of mushy.

4. Stir in the diced/crushed tomatoes and allow to simmer another five minutes. Stir in the vinegar before serving. Serve with hot bread and a dollop of yogurt in the middle.