Although it has been quite warm here in Florida the past few weeks, I have been craving a bowl of bean and vegetable soup. Soup is usually considered a cold weather dish, but I enjoy soup year round, and so this week I simmered a big pot of lentil and baby kale soup. This hearty soup is filling, and jam-packed with healthy vegetables making it a great lunch option or even a meatless dinner entree. If serving this soup for dinner, all you need to do is add a big, crisp salad and some crusty whole grain bread to round out the meal.
We eat a lot of lentils in my house, and I usually prefer cooking with the small beige or green lentils which hold their shape well when cooked. Lentils are a wonderful legume to cook with as it cooks quickly and doesn’t require presoaking. Lentils are also extremely healthy for you and are a very low-cost source of protein. In fact, one dollar worth of lentils can supply a third of the required protein for two average sized adults! This small bean is truly a nutrient powerhouse. They are fat free and are high in iron, phosphorus, copper, vitamin B, potassium, fiber, manganese, and folate. Best of all, compared to other dried beans, they are much faster to cook and easier to digest.
When I make soups such as this one, I like to include lots of diced vegetables such as carrots, onions, tomatoes and celery which add nutrition, texture, flavor, and color. Baby kale is an ingredient that I began using a lot last year as it is sold pre-washed in bags, and tastes great in salads or soups. I prefer to serve this soup warm rather than hot so all the flavors can be enjoyed. When serving this soup, you can top it with a dollop of pesto as shown in my photos, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or some grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Deborah Mele 2015
Lentil and Baby Kale Soup
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Onion, Peeled & Diced
- 5 Celery Stalks, Diced
- 5 Medium Carrots, Trimmed & Diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- 8 Cups Vegetable Broth
- 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Canned Tomatoes
- 1 1/2 Cups Small Lentils
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Basil or Parsley
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 (5 Ounce) Bag Baby Kale, About 6 Cups, Coarsely Chopped
- Topping of Choice (See Notes Above)
- In a large stockpot, heat the oil until sizzling, then add the onions, celery, and carrots.
- Cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic, and cook another minute or two.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, lentils, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook just until the lentils are tender to the bite, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Add the kale, and stir to mix.
- Cook until the kale has wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Serve very warm in individual bowls with topping of choice.