Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recipe: Easy Red Lentil Soup with Kale

My easiest recipe - I make this recipe at least twice each month. The variations are endless and all are delicious.

1# red lentils (a 1 pound bag is ~2-1/2 cups, but the recipe is flexible here)
6-8 cups broth or water
1 quart canned tomatoes
curry and salt and pepper to taste
Kale - couple of handfuls, chopped or thinly sliced (tough center stem removed)

I rinse the lentils and look them over for any small stones, always, no matter if I purchase them in bulk or in a bag. Yes, it is an annoyance, but cracking a tooth is far more annoying!

I cook the lentils in my crockpot in this broth or water without adding any further ingredients at this point, to make sure the lentils are really cooked and essentially fall apart. They will no longer be 'red' at this point. Using the low setting, it may take anywhere from 6-8 hours to have them be done, done, done. My husband simply will not eat lentils or beans of any kind unless they are completely soft. Having them be half-done or even 90% done leads to a complete rejection!  (And who can blame him?)

At that point, and only at that point, I will add 1 quart of canned tomatoes (I have found through trial and error that adding tomatoes earlier will keep the lentils from fully cooking to that soft point) and anything else you would like to flavor the soup. I like to add my chopped kale at the very end, so it is hot but still bright green and has some texture. My favorite seasoning is curry powder with extra turmeric (as much and as spicy as you like). Experiment by starting with small amounts of your seasonings until you find the spiciness level that your family will eat. I will spice up my own bowl to my own liking at the table as my spicy enjoyment level is higher than my husband's.

Salt and pepper to taste.

(Photo: Easy Red Lentil Soup with Kale)

Here is a link to a more complicated recipe on my dianadyer blog where I also combined red lentils and kale. Although it was delicious using the fish broth and additional vegetables, I have never made it again. However, I repeat, I make the simple recipe that I have sketched out above above over and over! :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - it's also regularly in my crock-pot! :)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Gardeningbren said...

It was so unusual to read you have to cook your lentils for such a long time to make them soft. Is it because they are in a crock pot perhaps, as mine when boiled on the stove are ready in half an hour. I will say, I have much better luck boiling in water than broth and whatever science that is, I do not know but it does seem to take longer in broth.

Don't often comment but I love kale and so enjoy your posts and your recipes. In the summer, I whizz the leaves in my food processor which turns the leaves into green fluffy confetti. I press that flat in a baggie and freeze, breaking off clumps for soups or whatever when needed. It is a magical food and it is great you blog so earnestly and confidently about it. Thanks so much.

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Yes, I suspect it is because I keep my crock-pot on low that it takes red lentils so long to cook. Perhaps they are done sooner rather than later, but I am 1) busy and just leave them and 2) I am spooked by my husband's rejection of undercooked lentils of all kinds. He has a more 'discerning' palate than my own, is a great cook himself, and he doesn't reject very much. However, I mean it, undercooked lentils get put under a napkin or some other way of hiding his dinner, like we all did as a child! So I really really cook them. :)

In addition, I am now sad that I skipped over an introductory food chemistry class in favor of an advanced class on kidney physiology. I have toyed with the idea of finding a local program that would let me audit a food chemistry class just for fun (right- in all my spare time). :)

Heather said...

sounds good. How much lentils,1 cups? On my screen it reads 1# red lentils.

Diana Dyer said...

The bag I buy is 1#. If I were using bulk red lentils, I would use 2 cups.

Kate said...

I make lentil soup or many varieties for lunch every day. Kale is a great addition just before serving and so is a handful of sprouts as a crunchy garnish. I planned to make red lentil soup tomorrow with red pepper flakes and paprika (Turkish style), but now I'm going to put in curry instead. Thanks for your great blog.

Diana Dyer said...

Kate, I love smoked paprika and will often add that to recipes for both color and flavor instead of any bacon or even liquid smoke (not sure what that really is). I know that turmeric, which is part of most curry mixtures, is a spice with considerable anti-cancer activity, as are most herbs and spices.