22 January 2013

Maggie's Lentil Soup

Like most of the Midwest, it was really cold here today. It didn't get quite as cold as it did in my home state of Minnesota, but it was still cold enough that many school districts delayed school by two hours. It was also cold enough that my walking buddy and I opted not to walk and carpooled instead (we walk to campus Tuesday and Thursday).

Anyway, since we knew it was going to be cold, that meant we planned for soup when doing our meal planning this week. We always toy with wild rice soup in the winter, but I really pushed for lentil soup. Shana wasn't certain, but then remembered that I changed the recipe that last time I made it and that she liked this version better. That the great thing about lentil soup though, it can be filled with nearly anything, take on multiple different flavor profiles, and will still be good for you! Every vegan cook should have a lentil soup they love. Lentils are a legume, which means they are a high-protein food, and they pair well with just about every soup veggie I can imagine. Plus, dried lentils are available at nearly any grocery store and do not require the soaking and long cooking times that many other legumes require. Just give them a quick once-over and rinse and they are ready to cook!



Maggie's Lentil Soup
Lentils draining in the sink
Ingredients
2 med. onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
splash of dry red wine (see Helpful Hints)
6 c. broth (I used half "chicken" and half "beef")
2 c. water
3 T. tomato paste
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 med. red or yukon gold potatoes
1 c. lentils, rinsed/drained
2 large handfuls baby spinach
pepper to taste

Directions
1. In a large soup pot, saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, saute another minute or two. 
2. Deglaze the pan by pouring a bit of red wine. 
3. Add all other ingredients except for spinach, cover, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. 
4. Add the spinach just before serving, allowing it to wilt in the pot. 

Helpful Hints
  • When I deglaze my soup pots, I almost always use white wine, not red. However, with the use of the "beef" stock and the tomato paste, the red wine adds more depth. Tonight I used Yellow Tail's Shiraz-Cabernet blend. 
  • If you want to find a vegan wine or beer, check the website barnivore.
  • This soup is admittedly simple, but don't let it fool you! It's got a really full-bodied flavor. Plus, it's gluten-free and can be soy-free if you use a soy-free broth.
  • Since you have a half of a little can of tomato paste leftover, here's a super helpful tip: freeze tomato paste in 1 T. chucks by using an ice-cube tray. When they are frozen, wrap them in a bit of foil and stick them in zip-top bag in the freezer. They keep for ages and you are then easily able to add them into other foods. I often do this with a couple of 12 ounce cans at a time. 

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