Easy Lentil-Spinach Soup
Cooking is one of my favorite ways to unwind and relax at the end of the day. And even though this has been a 5-nights-a-week ritual (or more!) for as long as I can remember, it has never felt like a chore. I have proudly provided my family with appetizing, delicious and nutritious meals, no matter how busy my life. Well, that was until I experienced how busy life can be when you start a business. Talk about a game-changer!
It’s not unusual for me to work from the minute I wake up until well past dinnertime. My husband who I have trained to expect dinner on the table on a very regular basis, noticed this work pattern and the associated absence of the meals he had so come to expect and enjoy! Being the resourceful man that he is, he subscribed to a meal kit service which was quickly introduced into our dinner-time routine a couple of nights a week. Not only did he take the initiative to subscribe, he prepares these meals as well. He stepped out of his comfort zone and is now gaining confidence in the kitchen -- he’s even starting to “improvise” his own dishes -- another game-changer!
For the rest of the week’s dinners and in an effort to maintain my reputation as the chef of the family, I made a pledge to keep my pantry and freezer stocked full of the essentials that would enable me to pull together a tasty, healthy meal in a snap.
Here's one of my tried and true “pantry” meals. Keep onions, carrots, celery and garlic on hand so, with lentils from the pantry and frozen spinach and ginger, you can easily throw together this filling soup. Add some hearty bread and a simple green salad and you have a delicious, nutritious meal with minimal effort.
Do you have a favorite quick and easy meal? We’d love to hear from you.
Easy - Vegan - Freezes well
Prep and cook time: about 1 hour total
This recipe is very flexible, you can make it thicker or thinner by adjusting the liquid, and spicier or milder by adjusting the seasonings. If you prefer a creamier soup, you can puree all or half of it with a blender. If you don’t have a lemon use more vinegar, if you don’t have vinegar, use more lemon. You can’t go wrong!
- 2 cups dried green lentils (or brown lentils)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 8 cups vegetable stock (or water) (or half stock, half water)
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley (or ¼ cup dried parsley)
- One 16 ounce bag frozen chopped spinach
- Juice of 1 large fresh lemon
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar) (or white wine vinegar)
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Rinse and drain lentils in a large colander. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and ginger and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add lentils, stock and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer until lentils are tender (approximately 20-30 minutes). NOTE: if soup is too thick when lentils are cooked, add more water, a half cup at a time, until desired consistency.
- Add parsley and spinach and simmer for 10-15 minutes more.
- Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
TIP: Freeze fresh unpeeled ginger in 1” pieces, it lasts a long time and you’ll always have it on hand. When you need it, peel by scraping the skin off with the edge of a spoon. It’s also easier to chop while still partially frozen.
Variation: Add a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes with liquid when adding lentils and liquid.