Lentil Soup to the Rescue

Posted by: on Nov 19, 2013 | 4 Comments

fall mapleMy husband and I are usually really good about cooking meals. We try to limit eating out or eating prepared foods. I usually plan meals before we go to the grocery store to make sure we have all the ingredients on hand. I also try not to go to the grocery store hungry and avoid the middle isles where all the tasty processed junk foods lie. Nevertheless, sometimes we cave.

We returned home last Tuesday from a long weekend across the Bay with the family. Max’s brother, his wife, and their little boy were visiting from Seattle. We spent a lovely couple of days with them. But when we got home, we were too tired to go to the store and too tired to plan meals for the rest of the week. Fortunately, we have done pretty well freezing and canning stuff for just such occasions. We managed to make it through most of the week with home canned soup broths, frozen vegetables, and leftover chili. However, we also came down with a cold. Rather, I got a cold and gave it to my husband. He was wonderful while I was sick and he still felt well. He made me soup and tea. Then he got sick and I felt better, which meant it was up to me to take care of him! But we were out of soup. I pulled off dinner the first night, cooking rice and beans with frozen vegetables and salsa. It was warm and surprisingly delicious despite having come from our winter stores.

chipoakes plantation

James River sunset walk with the family.


It’s really fun being an aunt to such a cutie.

That was Friday night. On Saturday, we found our fridge pretty much empty and a grocery run looming. We both rallied and made it to the store. We bought our usual supplies. However, when we got home and dinner time rolled around, I couldn’t decide on anything to cook and he was laid up on the couch. We listed off the usual meal options. Pad Thai? He usually cooks that one and I wasn’t feeling adventurous. Rice and beans? We ate that last night. Salad? Somehow just not satisfying when you are sick. This went on for an hour, just long enough for us both to feel pretty hungry and even more incapable of a decision. He was too tired and I was having one of my moments where I simply cannot decide what to eat or prepare. Enter meal-time breakdown! Somehow we made it to Walmart and bought a frozen cheese pizza. We also bought some additional vegetables to fill out what was in the fridge and some really tasty looking raspberries. We would resume our good eating habits tomorrow! So, we covered the cheese pizza in veggies and made a small salad to go with it. We opened a bottle of red wine and watched a funny movie.

The problem was we were both tired and we both really wanted soup. So, on Sunday, post pizza party, I decided to make lentil soup. As usual, I found two recipes that I liked but didn’t have all the ingredients for. Fortunately, I had the basics for soffritto (carrots, celery, and onion), lentils, dried tomatoes, bouillon, and mushrooms. I have not traditionally been a big fan of mushrooms. However, lately, I am beginning to really appreciate how much flavor they add to just about any dish. Mushrooms are a source of umami flavor and therefore offer the same kind of depth of flavor that chicken might to a soup. Mushrooms also somewhat disappear into a soup. I chop them really small so I get all the flavor without the texture.

Rescue Lentil Soup

2 Tbs coconut oil

1 finely chopped onion

1 large carrot finely chopped

2 stalks celery finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic chopped

1/2 package of baby bella mushrooms diced small

2 c. dried black lentils rinsed

1 large handful of dried tomatoes

6 cups of vegetable broth (I used vegetable bouillon and mushroom bouillon paste)

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp smoked spicy paprika

A few handfuls fresh or frozen spinach

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent. While this is cooking, make your vegetable broth. I used 6 cups of water, 3 vegetable bouillon cubes, and a few tablespoons of a mushroom bouillon paste (it comes in a jar). When the onions are translucent add the coriander, cumin, and smocked spicy paprika. I also added some ajwain seeds, an Indian spice that helps digest lentils. Cook until you can smell the spices, only a minute or so. Add the vegetable broth, garlic, lentils, diced mushrooms, and chopped dried tomatoes. Dried tomatoes offer a concentrated tomato flavor and are a great way to save tomatoes from the summer. We keep them in the freezer and toss them in just about anything. I left this on the stove on low for about an hour maybe longer. I just let it simmer until the flavors had mingled, the mushrooms had mostly dissolved into the broth, and the lentils were soft. Then I added a few handfuls of spinach.

I wanted this soup to have as much nutrition as possible. We are entering that time of year when fresh vegetables are more and more scarce and it’s harder to get all the variety we need. The mushrooms and spinach really pack a nutritional punch and as an added bonus, they add flavor. This ended up being one of the most delicious lentil soups I have made. It has a lot of full-bodied flavor. I served it with a salad and of course we put some sriracha on top.



  1. mom
    November 19, 2013

    We start craving that old lentil magic at this time of year, too. I hope you both are suitably revived!

  2. Take a wild guess!
    November 19, 2013

    Still not going to eat the ‘shrooms…

    • Hali
      November 20, 2013

      You wouldn’t even know they are there.

  3. Diane
    November 20, 2013

    I’m making the lentil soup tonight. Veggie broth is from cubes, too, but I always save my steaming water from other veggies and use that with the broth. Waste not, want not, and I guess added nutrients. Hope you both are recovered.


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