There’s nothing quite like a nourishing soup recipe, especially at the start of winter. And this Nourishing Lentil Soup hits. The. Spot.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Lentils is a New Year’s tradition in my family, going back generations. Growing up, we used to spend New Year’s Day at my great Aunt and Great Grandmother’s home, and they made sure that we each had at least a spoonful of lentils to bring in health and prosperity as we began the New Year. The tradition has stuck ever since – and we’ve always eaten far more than a spoonful!
Some people avoid lentils because they associate them with bloating, but soaking your lentils overnight eliminates this problem. I always soak my lentils overnight.
Soaking the lentils has a number of benefits:
- soaking neutralizes the anti-nutrients in lentils and promotes the secretion of important digestive enzymes
- the process of soaking enhances the rate of mineral absorption in the body. An enzyme called phytase is activated when the lentils are soaked, which aids in breaking down phytic acid and helps in binding calcium, iron, and zinc
- soaking triggers a compound called amylase, which breaks down complex starch in lentils and makes them easy to digest
- soaking deactivates the harmful compounds and activates the goodness, increasing the nutritional value exponentially
- soaking removes the gas-causing elements from the lentils. Legumes contain complex oligosaccharides, a type of complex sugar responsible for bloating and gas. After a good soak, the complex sugar is heavily reduced, which eases gas troubles
- soaking greatly reduces the cooking time of lentils and legumes
Over the years I’ve tweaked my own recipe to bring in different flavors and nourishing foods, and this is my current favorite. I love the sweet potatoes in the soup, which bring in a nice, velvety texture and just the right amount of sweetness.
At the end I like to toss in a few handfuls of a dark, leafy green to make this soup even more nutrient-dense. I typically use Bok Choy – it’s a favorite of mine, and my kids love the mild taste – but you can use spinach, kale, or any other dark leafy green of your choice.
The added tablespoon of ghee at the end just adds an extra layer of savory to the pot. You can serve this soup up by itself, because it’s so nice and hearty. You could also serve it over rice, cauliflower rice, or under a chicken breast, if you like; you can dunk your favorite gluten-free bread, or add a nice side salad. However you have it, I think you will find it absolutely delish!
How to Make Lentil Soup
Start by soaking your lentils. You may choose to soak your lentils for 4-6 hours, or overnight. To soak your lentils, first rinse them in a colander, then place them in a large bowl and fill with water. After about an hour, strain the lentils and dump the water and fill again. Halfway through the process, change the water out again (or the next morning, if soaking overnight). When ready to cook, strain the lentils.
Place a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add butter and oil and heat for 1 minute. Add in the onions and shallots, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Next, add the garlic and stir consistently for 30 seconds (just long enough to release the aroma, careful not to burn). Add celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
Add the lentils, broth, water, bay leaves, and herbs (plus ginger if adding), stir together, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, place a lid on top, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
After the 40 minutes, remove the lid and stir in the Bok Choy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with another tablespoon of butter or ghee (optional). Serve by itself or over rice.