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Food for the Soul

Updated on March 3, 2008

Lentil Soup

Comfort Food
Comfort Food

Soup is Food for the Soul

Here in the mountains of southeast NM we have had very warm weather, until last night when we got a reminder it is still winter. It’s cold outside, very very cold! There’s snow on the ground and the heater is blowing out warm air bringing the temperature up in the house to a tolerable degree. Another way to raise our body heat is to eat delicious, nutritious and steaming hot homemade soup. Soup is good anytime, but especially so in winter. I find lentil soup to be especially comforting!

LENTIL SOUP WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE

3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1/4 c. chopped green onions

1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. Italian sausage (hot is better)

1 lb. lentils (one package)

3 carrots, bite-sized pieces

2 potatoes of choice, diced

1 sweet potato, quartered

1 qt. broth (vegetable, chicken and/or beef) *

2 bay leaves

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS ground curry

S & P to taste

1/2 tsp red chile flakes

* Whenever I cook vegetables or meat, any broth is saved for future use. Cutting extra skin off the chicken will produce great broth for later use. Just boil the skin in water with a little salt. When cooking fresh or frozen vegetables always save the broth not used.

Remove “skins” from sausage and roll into sausage balls. In a large soup pot heat olive oilt, sauté garlic, onions and parsley until slightly golden. Add sausage balls. Add cumin, bay leaves and curry, stir, reduce heat to medium hot, let sausage simmer with spices. Add rinsed and drained lentils, stir, allow lentils to soak up juices. When lentils begin to “crack” add broth. Add chopped carrots and potatoes. Add bay leaves, red chile flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove quartered sweet potatoes and allow to cool. Remove skin (or not) and mash in bowl. Replace in soup to add texture and flavor. If soup is too thick add more broth.

Many variations may occur with this soup. No meat is necessary. Flavor with cumin, curry, oregano, tomato, and a strong vegetable broth. Sausage may be replaced with bacon or chunks of beef. Lentils are legumes whichcontain high level of proteins, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and minerals. They have been consumed for millenia in India, a staple of that country. Serves 6 - 8.

Another Favorite

Chunky Vegetable Soup
Chunky Vegetable Soup

Comforting Vegetables - Healthy too

My next favorite is vegetable soup. You can make it as chunky or brothy as you wish. Seasonings will vary also, depending on your preference for hot or mild spices. Add some cooked pieces of chicken breast if you need more protein - then of course it is chunky chicken with vegetables soup!

CHUNKY VEGETABLE SOUP

* Any combination of fresh or frozen vegetables will do nicely. Here are my recommendations.

3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1/4 c. chopped green onions

1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1 c. chopped carrots

1 c. chopped broccoli

1 c. chopped cauliflower

1/2 c. frozen peas

1/2 c. frozen corn

1 chopped potato of choice

1 qt. vegetable broth (and/or chicken or beef)

2 bay leaves

S & P to taste

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pot, add the parsley, garlic and green onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the broth, then all the chopped vegetables. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes, then simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are desired doneness. I often add some small pasta to a vegetable soup for more density - shells or "alphabet" pasta. You can't go wrong with this - one can't eat too many veggies!

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