Mild red lentils and fresh vegetables, along with plenty of herbs and seasonings combine to create a delicious soup high in protein, fiber, and iron. Let me tell you why you need to make this recipe pronto, quick fast and in a hurry, right now.
Lentils should be a part of your regular meal rotation if you suffer from hypertension (as most African Americans do), or iron deficient anemia. Why? A one-cup serving of lentils contains 731 mg of potassium, along with 16 gms of dietary fiber, and 18 grams of protein. Fiber is important to keep you regular, make you feel fuller longer, and stave off digestive problems.
Nutritionally, when it comes to USDA recommended daily requirements, you’ll get 36% of the daily RDA for iron, 20% for vitamin B-6, 17% for Magnesium, 5% for vitamin C, and 3% for calcium (based on a 2000 calories per day diet). Potassium is an extremely important mineral for hypertensives and something you should take care to get plenty of on a daily basis.
What is Potassium?
Potassium is an essential mineral and a major electrolyte found in the human body. It plays an important role in electrolyte regulation, nerve function, muscle control, and blood pressure. Potassium is found within all cells of the body, and its levels are controlled by the kidneys. Primarily, potassium functions to regulate water and mineral balance throughout the body.
Potassium works with sodium (salt) to maintain a normal blood pressure. Research suggests that increasing dietary potassium may provide a protective effect against hypertension (high blood pressure) by increasing the amount of sodium excreted from the body. A high potassium intake has also been linked to a reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. Many doctors will tell their heart and hypertension patients to be sure and eat a banana per day – the potassium is what they’re after.
The generally accepted adequate intake (AI) level for potassium is 4,700 milligrams/day for males and females ages fourteen through adulthood, as well as women who are pregnant , with the exception of those with renal (kidney disorders) who should follow the specific advice of their treating physician.
Athletes or those who work in professions and sweat a lot may require more than the AI level to prevent muscle cramps.
I prefer red lentils in soup for three reasons:
- Red lentils cook up in almost half the time of green
- Red lentils are more tender; and
- Red lentils have a much sweeter, nuttier (vs. earthy aka dirt-like) taste than green lentils do.
Don’t be worried if your red lentils aren’t exactly Crayola crayon red, as the different varieties of lentils will range in color from golden to orangish to a true red. The ones I got today are orangish-red as you can see from the photo.
This soup is super easy to make and can be on the table in less than an hour after a busy day at work. Unless you have a large family, you should have some left to take to work for lunch the next day. The ingredients are not unusual, and are found in most well-stocked kitchens.
Using a food processor makes the job even that much easier and faster. I trimmed the vegetables then cut them into large pieces, popped them into my food processor, pulsed a few times, and the chopping was all done. Into the pot they went to soften. After about 12 minutes on medium-low, I added the herbs which you see in the picture.
After that I added the lentils, water, bouillon cubes, bay leaf, and pequin peppers. Hopefully you can find some where you are… if not, any whole dried hot pepper should work just fine.
After adding in all the ingredients, bring the pot to a boil then lower the heat and let it cook for 20 minutes. You’ll then turn off the heat, add your lemon juice and spinach, stir and cover pot. Let it sit on the flameless burner for another 10-15 minutes or so.
Then get ready to grub! I wanted to have mine with some garlic bread but I forgot to get another loaf of sourdough when I went to the store, so I just had the soup. Wasn’t a problem. The end result speaks for itself.
- 1 large white onion, chopped (2 cups)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- 5 dried pequin pepper pods
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 2-1/4 cups dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 4 cans water (use the crushed tomatoes can)
- 4 vegetable bouillon cubes with herbs (Rapunzel)
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and thinly sliced (half a 5 oz package)
- 4 Tablespoons (or to taste) fresh Meyer lemon juice or Balsamic vinegar
- Kosher or Himalayan pink salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil over medium flame. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, pequin peppers, and bouillon cubes. Pour in 4 cans water and the lentils.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice or vinegar and sliced spinach. Let pot sit on stove, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.
- Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve with crusty sourdough, cornbread or garlic bread.
Find more fabulous recipes by Deborrah Cooper in WHY VEGAN IS THE NEW BLACK: More than 100 Delicious Meat and Dairy Free Meal Ideas Your Whole Family Will Love
Category: Light Meals