I love lentil soup but after more than one bowl, well … it’s a little too lentil-y. I know that’s not a word, but that’s how it tastes to me after a while because the flavor is too uniform.
In recent years I started adding some canned tomatoes and a bit of pasta (the smallest shape I could find) into the soup and that was delicious—the tomato and pasta gave the soup more depth and contrast. However after reheating, the pasta would become overcooked, mushy and absorb too much of the broth. And then there was quinoa…
Quinoa gives the lentil soup the contrast I was looking for along with the health benefits and it doesn’t get fat and mushy. It retains its shape and I’ve been using it ever since. Lentils and quinoa make a perfect pair in both soups and salads. Their flavors are complementary and they fill you up. This tasty and nutritious soup is loaded with protein, fiber and nutrients, and includes the antioxidant benefits of cooked, canned tomatoes.
To make this even better, I started my soup with chopped onions, celery and a sweet potato (instead of carrots which I hate to admit, but I just don’t like cooked) garlic and turmeric, adding even more goodness and flavor, making this a nutrient-rich, tasty, soup that’s so easy to make. As with most soups, make a large pot and freeze a quart or two to have on hand when you want a quick, healthy meal without spending time cooking.
This soup is for everyone: it’s gluten free and vegan!
Makes about 7 pint servings or 14 cups
1 cup of lentils – rinsed
1 cup quinoa – rinsed
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes – organic (with no additives)
1 cup onions – diced
1 small sweet potato – diced
1/2 cup celery – diced
1 large, fresh garlic clove – finely chopped
3 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of the pot)
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of turmeric
3 quarts water (or use half vegetable broth if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with some freshly grated parmesan and slivered basil (optional)
Place a large stockpot (4 quarts or larger) over medium heat. Add the oil, heat for a minute or two and add onions, potatoes and celery and cook until softened, about 10 minutes
Add the pinch of turmeric, pepper and garlic, cook for a minute more, add the tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes to concentrate the flavor.
Add the water and the lentils, bring to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the quinoa, cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Let it sit off the heat for about 5 minutes, and season to taste.
Garnish with some freshly grated parmesan, some slivered basil and serve.
Chances are if you’re committed to the health and well-being of yourself, your family and the earth, you’ve realized that you need to cook…not only for the mega health benefits, but for the priceless emotional rewards that linger long after you’ve left the table.
If you want to learn, I’m on a mission to inspire and instruct and have fun doing it. Join me in my kitchen atchefsilvia.com where there’s free resources to guide you from pantry to plate; an abundance of tasty, healthy original recipes from family and professional archives, that I update regularly; my go pro tips; and – as in any good Italian kitchen – plenty of talk about food and living a sweet, vibrant, meaningful life…la dolce vita.
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Silvia Bianco is a holistic chef, teacher, writer, former restaurateur, mother, and a native Italian raised in the US. For 20 years she’s been teaching people, groups, kids how to cook – even corporate teams at companies such as GE, Unilever, Dannon, ING, P & G, and many others. She is the author of Simply Sauté, has appeared on numerous TV shows, including The Today Show, cooked at the James Beard House and on stage at the Ridgefield Play House.