I’m not sure there is anything more comforting than a bowl of hot soup on a cold day. Lentil soup is a healthy, waist-friendly meal with an amazingly satisfying taste.
As a Registered Dietitian, I have many clients coming to me not only looking for assistance in losing weight, but also improving their general health. I’m a big proponent of health at any size, and getting healthier does not only mean losing weight. Reducing meat and relying on plant-based proteins is an excellent place to start.
That’s not to say there isn’t room in a healthy diet for your favorite meat, but reducing meat consumption can be a great way to lighten your plate. Research has shown that even modestly reducing meat and animal products is an effective way to improve health.
Meatless Monday is a good way to reduce meat intake slowly — by cutting back on meat consumption starting just one day a week. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to experiment with meat-free dishes and plant-based protein that double as meat alternatives. There are a plethora of meat alternatives on the market now and many are widely available and wildly delicious.
Lentils are a great example of a meat alternative: rich, hearty and satisfying. They are a perfect swap for high-fat meats in soups and stews, and are delicious and filling when served alone. They are rich in nutrients as well as protein and fiber, two important features to keep you feeling fuller longer.
There are many varieties of lentils: Some hold their shape better when cooking, and some cook down into a lovely and thick mash. This recipe uses whole green lentils (not split), which are perfect for soup. As I mentioned above, I like to use lentils as a swap for meat, particularly in dishes that can use a meaty boost. Try using lentils in vegetarian Bolognese sauce, meatballs or lasagna.
This soup is one of my favorites. It also freezes well. Make a big batch and freeze half for a quick meal when you’re short on time.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
½ teaspooon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups green lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
½ cup white wine
1) In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add red onion, carrots, celery and salt until the vegetables begin to soften, about 6–8 minutes.
2) Add the spices and stir well to combine, and continue cooking about 2 minutes.
3) Add the lentils and stir to coat, then add vegetable stock and 2 cups of water.
4) Cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to be sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate.
5) Add additional water 1 cup at a time as needed until the lentils are soft and the liquid is reduced.
6) Season to taste and serve very hot with Greek yogurt, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.
Megan Wolf is a New York City based Registered Dietitian at Megan Wolf Nutrition. She is active on social media, a health and wellness expert, recipe developer, public speaker and the author of Great Meal with Greens and Grains.