Monday, January 12, 2009

Lentil Soup in a Hurry!

In between nursing the babies, changing diapers, reading stories to the girls, and building block towers with the babies I still need to make a meal, right? Or shall I say three meals a day, every day.

People often ask me how many hours a day I spend in the kitchen. Well it is not as many as you may imagine. I find ways to cut corners, use what we have, and stretch the ingredients I have on hand. I have four children now and life is not as simple as it was with one or two in tow.

This morning I used the leftover brown rice from last night's dinner to make a super fast (and simple) Rice Breakfast Porridge of sorts. Into a pot I placed a few cups of cooked short grain brown rice (though a combo of short grain and sweet rice works even better) along with a few cups of organic vanilla almond milk. I chopped up a few medjool dates and added those as well. The almond milk and dates provide ample sweetness so it didn't need any maple syrup or honey. I simmered the rice and milk mixture over low heat until it was warmed. And then we topped each bowl with ground cinnamon and ground raw almonds (I grind my almonds in the dry container of the Vita-Mix, but a coffee grinder works also). Frozen blueberries would be another great addition to top it all off.

The babies went down for their morning nap around 11am. And typically, as soon as they are asleep, I rush around the house and try to get everything done possible. Dishes, laundry, meals, book orders, you name it.

I use my "free" time efficiently, making a meal while at the same time doing dishes and a load of laundry or two. To get the soup done faster, I began by putting the lentils into a soup pot with the water to get them cooking. Never mind if you are caught up with other things and can't get to adding the other ingredients right away, at least you have the lentils cooking so you are half way there already!

Lentils cook up very quickly compared to other legumes which may require to be soaked overnight and then cooked for an hour or more. In about 45 minutes you can have a home-cooked meal of lentil soup. And as an added bonus...lentils are very inexpensive making them a budget-friendly food.

The lentils I used in today's soup are called French lentils, which are also sometimes referred to as baby lentils. They are small with blue speckles and hold their shape during cooking making them a great addition to salads!

Once the lentils are cooking and you have a moment to spare, begin chopping your vegetables. You can then add them to your simmering lentils and your soup will be ready to go in about 20 minutes! Follow the recipe below for a time-saving way to have a healthy lunch:

Lentil Noodle Soup
2 cups French Lentils
10 cups water or vegetable stock (or a combo of the two)
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, sliced
3 to 4 stalks celery, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups uncooked brown rice noodles (I used Tinkyada shells)
1 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons sea salt or Herbamare, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
large handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed

Place the lentils and water or stock into a large pot (6 to 8 quart) and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat down to a simmer.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Then add the onions and saute until soft. Then add the carrots, celery, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Saute a few minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

After the lentils have been cooking for 25 to 30 minutes, add the sauteed vegetables. Then add the tomatoes and noodles and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more.

Turn off heat and add the red wine vinegar (start with less and add more as your taste suggests), salt, pepper, fresh parsley, and crushed garlic. Adding raw garlic at the end of cooking time will greatly enhance the overall flavor of the soup! Add more water or stock for a thinner soup. This soup is great packed in a Thermos for school or work lunches, enjoy!


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9 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I am going to make it for dinner tonight. I think I just may have all the ingredients already.

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  2. this is funny - i made a lentil soup almost identical to this, at 8 am this morning (inspired by having it at your house - I like the italian seasoning and i used the fire roasted tomatoes). i threw the soup into a thermos and made it into lunch-on-the-go for three, with kiwi and avocado on the side... Love, April

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  3. Ali--This is very much the way I cook ... in dribs and drabs to speak while doing lots of other stuff. Yesterday, I cooked a pot of vegetable soup with lots of frozen tidbits from the freezer and a few items from the pantry. (I did laundry, listened to an audiobook while in the kitchen, etc.) I started with a chicken "carcass" that still had a fair amount of meat on it. Once that had simmered a good while, I drained the broth and returned it to the pot and added some potatoes to simmer. I picked off all the chicken and added it to the various small packages of other meat I had retrieved from the freezer (some more chicken, some turkey, and some beef). (Since I ended up with so much chicken I decided to make chicken quesadillas for lunch--yum.) Then I addded some diced tomatoes to the broth and simmered a good while. Finally I added other veggies and last the meat. We really enjoyed it for dinner. It is a huge pot and there are just two of us at home now. So, today, I am going to make a big batch of corn bread to go with it and divvy it out in jars to share with various relatives (one with a new baby, one recently home from the hospital, etc.). Soup is just the best.

    Lentils are so nutritious. I'd like to make this for an upcoming support group recipe.

    But, what I really want to try is your impromput rice breakfast porridge. That sounds very good! My breakfast this morning was very non-traditional. Two chicken livers that I also found in the freezer yesterday. Sauteed in olive oil with some sea salt, they were fabulous!!

    Thanks for letting me know about your blog!

    Best,
    Shirley
    http://glutenfreeeasily.com

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  4. Shirley -

    I like your idea of storing tidbits of meat and veggies in the freezer and then making them into one big pot of soup when you have time, I had not thought of that!

    I like to save my raw vegetable scraps in the freezer and then make a big batch of soup stock when I have time.

    Thanks for sharing your cooking wisdom here!

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  5. You're doing the same thing, Ali, with your raw veggie scraps. Mine are just more evolved. ;-) I love sharing cooking tips with others because the things we take for granted could be news to others and vice versa.

    Shirley
    http://glutenfreeeasily.com

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  6. I found you via Shirley's blog. This soup looks wonderful! I had four kids very close in age and I know how hard it is to even brush your teeth before 5 PM -- I'm REALLY impressed you're managing a blog! And doing a good job of it, too!

    Good for you! And thanks for the recipe. I love lentils.

    Melissa

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  7. Hi Melissa -

    Glad you found our blog. I try to post when I have time, though not as often as I would like. Just checked out your blog...beautiful! I will add it to my GF blog list, thanks!
    -Ali :)

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  8. Ali
    I made the "Lentil Soup in a Hurry" recipe for dinner and it was so easy I had extra time before serving! My daughter, who is a picky eater, loved this soup and asked for seconds and if she could have it for lunch the next day in a thermos for school! Thank you for the healthy, fast and tasty recipe! I look forward to more!
    Dot

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  9. This was delicious! I loved the richness that vinegar added. I never would have thought to add vinegar to a soup. Shows how much I know. I posted it on my blog for others to enjoy. Thank you!

    http://itchylittleworld.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/lentil-noodle-soup/

    Jennifer

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Thanks, and as always, Happy Cooking! Ali & Tom