Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

This is one of Mom's recent recipe finds. She has a thing for lentils and was looking for some new recipes a few months ago when she found this one. I don't know a lot about lentils since I don't eat them so I had to do a little research to find out what it is about them Mom loves so much.

Lentils are one of nature's greatest food. They are legumes and they grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds. They are classified according to whether they are large or small in size plus their color. You can find lentils in so many colors, they are smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser, and they are sold whole or split into halves. Having originated in central Asia, they are one of the first foods to ever be cultivated. There are even lentil seeds that date back 8,000 years!

Mom had only cooked with brown lentils, which retain their shape after cooking until she found this recipe. The red lentils turn yellow and become soft and mushy after cooking. Though the flavor of each variety varies a little, the overall nutty taste comes through no matter which you cook.

Not only do lentils taste good but they're good for you. Here's what the World's Healthiest Foods website had to say about them:

Lentils are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up--not out.

In addition to fiber, lentils have significant amounts of folate and magnesium, both of which help your cardiovascular system.

I know that you may be thinking - soup now that the weather's warming? Mom's answer to this is a big yes! She eats soups, stews, and chilis year round because they are just that good. This soup is best served hot, but it tastes good at room temperature too.

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup
via RecipeZaar.com
Serves 6 to 8

5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup dried red lentils
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped potatoes
8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Add the first 5 ingredients to a large pot; cover and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and veggies are tender.

Take pot from stove burner and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the oil; warm over low heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.

Add in the cumin, turmeric, and salt; cook and stir constantly for for 2-3 minutes or until the cumin has released its fragrance (be careful not to scorch the spices).

Set spice mixture aside for 1 minute to cool.

Stir spice mixture into the lentil mixture; add cilantro, stir to combine.

You can puree the soup, in batches, in a blender OR you can use an immersion blender and blend to desired texture (you can leave it a little chunky).

Add in lemon juice; stir to combine


Mom uses almost 4 cups vegetable broth and the rest water. She is working on transitioning from store bought broth to homemade but isn't there yet. There are lots of broths you can buy in the store but remember most cans are lined with plastic. Broth also comes in aspectic containers and many curbside recycling programs accept them. It's always best to choose organic whenever possible, but homemade is really the best option.

Mom has not sourced organic red lentils yet. She's made this recipe a few time now and is currently looking for an organic brand, so please leave me a comment if there's a brand of organic lentils you buy. Buying lentils in bulk is preferred but buying a bigger bag over a smaller bag is always a step in the right direction.

We know from consulting the EWG's Shopper Guide to Pesticides that onions have the lowest pesticide load meaning it is okay to buy conventional. By okay I mean relatively free of pesticides but probably GMO. You have to decide which to buy based on the area of greatest concern to you. Mom buys conventional but is researching non-GMO. Those of you who have been following my blog for a long time know that I did a post on the EWG's guide a while ago. If you aren't familiar with the guide, please visit the site and download a quick reference guide. If have an iphone you can download the app.

Mom has used both white potatoes and red potatoes and the soup has turned out fine. Since she's a garlic freak she adds a little more than 8 cloves. Both of these are conventional, but the cilantro she uses is organic.

Lastly, the first time Mom made this she put in the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice but then decided it was too lemony and that she wouldn't put that much in again. The lemon juice is meant to enhance the other flavors but she felt it was overpowering. And she hasn't used salt and pepper because it really doesn't need it. Oh, and an immersion blender is the best kitchen appliance ever.

Making changes to the way you eat is always a work in progress. Taking baby steps is better than jumping in all at once because the way you eat is so much a part of who you are. Changing from conventional produce to organic is not easy but substituting some produce, like the ones from the EWG's dirty dozen for organic is a good place to start. No one is perfect when it comes to choosing which foods to buy, make, and eat. We can all learn from one another and in the end make better food choices for ourselves and for the planet.


agent99 said...

Mom totally hates lentils.....but she says you should check out the $5 Dinner lady, who used whole grains for lots of healthy and economical meals. NO matter how blechy they might taste.....5dollardinner.com, I think
I think mom said something about grilling a burger......

THE PUGLET said...

we'll see if our local co-op has org lentils. i'm not allowed inside, but human says the bulk section is GINORMOUS.

Apollo said...

My Mommy loves eating soup year round too. And she LOVES split pea. She'll have to try this one.

dw said...

Hi Stubby! Thanks for the info on lentils. I have never made soup with them, but might be willing to try. I use store bought broth when making soups and risotto and I found Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth Low Sodium is pretty good. Not only are the chickens free range and the broth organic, but the sodium content is way way less than most other brands. I've seen some with 900 mg per serving while this one has 70 mg per serving! Big difference! Now if I can only find an easy peasy butternut squash recipe...... yum!

<--not a great cook, so needs easy peasy!

Pearl said...

I have always wanted to try lentils, but never have! I LOVE beans, peas, etc... surely I will like them...

Thanks for the delicious recipe! I am loving Tasty Tuesday!!

Melissa and Emmitt said...

hi stubby!
oh my gosh!
your mom's lentil soup looks so yummy!
that is our favorite food and we have to try this recipe!
m & e

Those Elgin Pugs said...

Hey My Stubby Man!

Mommy said this sounds tasty! I'm a little sceptical. I don't eat anything orange. I don't know why Stubby...I just don't. Maybe next times we gets together...your Mommy can makes it (my Mommy will helps - Hee Hee...Yours might want to keep a fire extinguisher on hand) and thens you can feeds me my little lentils beanies. Oh and we cans listen to our song....hee hees.
xoxoxo Your Josie Girl

Stubby said...

Hi Gen & the Foo! Why does your mom hate lentils? What did they ever do to her?

I'll tell Mom to check out the $5 Dinner lady. She loves the whole grains and says they taste good. I wouldn't know because I never get them. Lucky me? A burger sure does sound good!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Puglet! Thanks for checking your co-op. Why can't you go in? No dogs or no pugs allowed? I think it would be cool to see a ginormous bulk section.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Apollo! I'm glad that someone besides Mom eats soup year round. Mom loves split pea soup too but the last time she made it, it didn't turn out good. I told her to try a new recipe so ask your mom if she has one she can share.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi dw! Mom says you will love lentils and that they'll love you. She claims they're easy to cook with so don't be afraid.

The sodium content is the problem with most store bought broths. I'm glad you found a low sodium organic one you like because most don't taste good.

Mom had an easy peasy butternut squash recipe but lost it. It had to be easy if she made it. Hopefully she will find it so I can post it.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Pearly Poo! You will love lentils if you love beans. When they fall apart and get mushy they also get messy.

I'm so glad you're loving Tasty Tuesday. It's been pretty well received and I may continue it for more than a month.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Melissa & Emmitt! I can't believe lentils are your favorite food. There is so much you can do with them and so many varieties. Mom says she doesn't think she could ever get sick of them as long as she keeps trying out new ways to prepare them.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Josie Girl! They aren't really orange, it's just the picture. They are more like a light shade of red but since they turn yellow you'd probably eat them.

I still can't believe you don't eat orange foods. Carrots and oranges are two of my favorite foods. You really are missing out.

I think it's a great idea to have our moms make this up the next time they get together. And of course we need to play our song.

Stubby xoxo

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Hi Stubby
Thank you soooo much for another recipe!!
we love lentils- even me!
We are going to try this recipe..
It sounds sooo good. We can smell the aromas now.
Have you ever fried lentils?

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! I'm so glad to hear you like lentils. I guess I'm going to have to try them someday.

Mom has never fried lentils. She didn't even know they could be fried. How do they taste? What do you put on them?

Stubby xoxo