Easy Vegan Red Lentil Soup
Eating vegan is a choice for some, for others it may be out of health reasons. I personally can’t have any dairy, but love a small piece of grass-fed, lean cut steak once in awhile, as well as fresh fish and chicken. So I find myself often eating a vegan dish with perhaps some meat on the side or in the case of this soup, just serve it with a salad. Most of the time our family gets their protein from combination of legumes, grains and vegetables. Such as hummus and pita bread, served with gluten-free pasta salad. Our bodies occasionally need rest from meat, and substituted with plant-based food options. This is why it’s nice to have few easy vegan recipes on hand, that we enjoy. Lentils is a power house in the legume family with its high fiber content. This soup is real easy and a meal for champions. Of course I understand, that lentils are an acquired taste at first, but you’ll never know how good it is, until you try. That’s what my mama always said.
Most kids have few favorite dishes that their mom cooks or cooked. And each mom has her own recipes, habits and food culture. I’ll never forget several years ago, while on a plane flying internationally on a 11 hour flight. There was a two year old toddler sitting with his mom, close to me. Shortly after our flight got in the air, the flight attendants started serving our dinner. I watched this young mother try to feed her little boy, and this kid would not open his mouth. He screamed and kicked his legs in protest, refusing to eat his dinner served by the airline. Finally after a while, this mother pulled out a plastic container of, what appeared to be a lentil dinner. To me it smelled and looked like a heavenly home cooked Indian cuisine (I had just finished eating airplane food = Plastic). The mother started feeding this little boy her own food (wish I had screamed too, maybe I could have gotten a bite of real food too;-) ), and this kid had the biggest grin on his face, like you wouldn’t believe. He finished the entire meal, put his head down and slept thru the rest of the flight. I truly learned that day the value of habits and acquired taste, even at a very young age.
Few Health Benefits
Of all the legumes, lentils contain the most fiber. Half cup cooked lentils contain almost 8 grams of fiber. Our daily recommended fiber need for adults are 25-30 grams from food. And according to the University of California, San Francisco, the average American consume about 15 grams of fiber each day. Fiber is necessary for controlling blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. Another great benefit with lentils are the high protein content. Every cup of cooked lentils, contain as much as 3 oz. of chicken, which is 18 grams. That is equivalence to 3 large boiled eggs. As you can tell by these numbers, eating plants based occasionally, is definitely only going to help with keeping saturated fat under control, while increasing the fiber intake.
Variety Of lentils
There are several colors of lentils available. I grew up with eating a lot of red and brown lentils. There are yellow, black and green lentils too. Each of them have a little different taste and texture. Red and yellow are the mildest in flavor and commonly used in the Mediterranean, Indian and Middle Eastern Diet. They break down and become mushy only after few minutes of cooking, while the opposite is true with the other three colors. The great thing about red lentils is that they don’t need to be soaked before cooking them. But this also means that they have been hulled (outer layer has been removed), which removes some of the fiber content (still plenty left). Whereas brown and green lentils are usually not hulled, making their fiber content much higher, but they take a little longer to cook. Also good to note that, small lentils are usually easier to digest than larger beans.
Tips and Recipe
- Because red lentils cook down and become real mushy fast, they work great to add in any stew and soup to thicken the dish. They may be red uncooked, but by the time they are cooked down they dissolve and appear almost yellow/white. I usually use this trick in my cooking. I’ll randomly add some lentils in a dish and my kids and grand kids can’t tell.
- Anytime you combine legume with grains, including rice like in the case of this soup, you have a complete protein.
- Like most soups, this recipe is excellent as a next day dinner. I love making extra and just keeping some in my fridge for quick lunch. Stores well for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
- You can easily add some chopped carrots in this recipe. Add them same time as the lentils and the rice. The carrots will dissolve and become creamy along with the rest.
- The combination of the spices, lentils and the rice makes it very authentic flavors from Middle Eastern area, in particularly Lebanon and Armenia (explains why I grew up with this soup).
- Instead of using “Better Than Bullion”, you can use any chicken bouillon. You can also substitute the water and bouillon with prepared vegetable broth or stock**.
- Use a non-stick pan as the lentils tend to stick to the bottom easily.
- If you save the soup for day after, you will how the soup has become thicker. This is normal because of the lentils. Just add additional 1/2-3/4 Cups of water or broth until you get the right consistency.
Easy Vegan Red Lentil Soup
Yield: 7-8 Cups Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 45-55 min
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Pressed Fresh Garlic
2 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Coriander
5-6 Cup Water or Broth
1 Cup Red Lentils
1/4 Cup Jasmine Rice
1/4 Cup Better Than Bouillon or Broth
2 Teaspoon Parsley Flakes
Cayenne Pepper (Optional Garnish)
Cumin (Optional Garnish)
Fresh Chopped Parsley (Optional Garnish)
Salt (as needed)
In a non-stick pot add the Olive Oil and the chopped onion. Cook for a minute or two, you want a little golden color. Add the pressed garlic and saute. Measure and add the cumin and coriander then most of the water (keep about 1 cup for later), bouillon along with the lentils and rice. Let is all come to a boil and then turn it down to low, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Occasionally stir the soup with your spatula, to make sure the lentils aren’t sticking to the bottom. As the lentils starts breaking down and becoming creamy, you can choose to add the remainder (1 Cup) of the water or not. The longer this soup cooks, the thicker it will get. If the soup is thicker than your liking than add a little extra broth. Right before serving add some fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Traditionally in the Middle East it is served with cayenne pepper and a little extra cumin on it. Remember cumin helps with digestion, which is beneficial when eating lentils. Serve a green salad and bread on the side and you have a perfect lean and healthy meal, packed with nutrition and fiber.