Lentil Soups for Winter, V. Wilson

Winter is upon us and we need to keep warm. Lentil soups are a terrific way to keep our bodies warm and healthy. Soups are a great appetizer to any meal, or can be a whole meal just by themselves. Lentils are one of the perfect ingredients for soup-making because they can create a thick broth. 

The two most popular types of lentils are the green ones and the red ones. The green lentils tend to hold their shape after being cooked, while the red ones dissipate, losing their shape. 

When cooking with lentils, (and any other bean), I always cook them with a piece of kombu. Kombu is a sea vegetable that helps strengthen your digestive tract and helps you digest the protein in the beans, therefore eliminating the gas. And even though lentils are small beans and therefore have less sulfur, some people still have gas after consuming them. 

Lentils are an excellent source of protein, can help reduce cholesterol, help lower blood pressure and are high in calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A. 

Here are two wonderful lentil soup recipes that will keep you warm on those cold winter nights! 

Rice & Lentil Soup 

10 cups water
1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1 cup red lentils
1 four inch piece kombu (soaked and cut up)
1 onion (diced)
2 broccoli heads (cut up)
8 ounces mushrooms (cut up)
3 celery stalks (diced)
1 cup corn
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. sea salt 

Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot. Add the two rices, reduce to a simmer and cook 20 minutes, covered. Add the lentils and kombu, continue simmering for 10 more minutes. Add the vegetables, layering them – first the onions, then broccoli, mushrooms, celery and corn on top. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Season with the spices and sea salt. Stir all together and serve warm. 

Lentil Squash Soup

11 cups water
1 cup green lentils
1 cup red lentils
1 six inch piece kombu (soaked and cut up)
1 onion (diced)
8 garlic cloves (minced)
1 buttercup squash (cut into cubes)
2 carrots (diced)
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
2 T. tamari
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt 

Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot. Add lentils and kombu. Let cook 5 minutes. Letting the water come back to a boil in between each vegetable, add the vegetables one at a time. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. 

*Recipe note: These recipes make a large pot of soup. You can put what you don’t use in containers and freeze them, so you’ll have homemade soups on hand even when you don’t have time to cook them. 

Valerie Wilson is the author of Perceptions In Healthy Cooking. She teaches cooking classes and offers counseling in Westland, Michigan. She can be reached at (734) 722-4553 or www.macroval.com.

Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2010 – 2011.

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