In the Italian tradition, lentils are eaten in the new year to help bring prosperity and money. This Roman tradition typically makes use of green lentils, as the green variety looks more like ancient coins, but I think that we should set a new tradition and cook with red lentils at the start of a new year.
Mostly because red lentils are easier to cook and don’t require pre-soaking. Let’s make healthy eating easy in 2015, shall we?
I love this soup because it’s amazingly detoxifying and nutrient-dense. Lentils have been consumed for thousands of years and are believed to have been the first cultivated food.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are high in fibre and are a very good source of protein and B vitamins. Lentils are also high in iron, zinc and calcium. The iron in lentils and the greens is more easily absorbed when eaten with a source of vitamin C, which is achieved by adding the lemon juice at the very end of cooking. Adding the wild rice and greens boosts the amino acids in the dish to increase the protein content.
The fresh dill provides liver support for both phases of liver detoxification while lentils’ folic acid also assists in the liver’s phase-one detoxification, if you find yourself on a mini-detox this January.
So make it and stay warm, satiated and healthy, why don’t you?
- ½ large onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 ½ cups red lentils, rinsed
- ½ cup wild rice
- 1 bottle crushed tomatoes or 4 cups pureed raw tomatoes
- 1L organic chicken or veggie stock
- Water to fill pot to the top
- 1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch spinach or baby kale, roughly chopped
- Sauté onion in a big pot until fragrant. Add the carrots and celery, spices and a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to sauté.
- Rinse the rice and lentils and tip into pot. Add crushed garlic. Stir around so everything coats everything and then add stock, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer, covered, for around 30 minutes, or until lentils and rice are soft. Squish the soft garlic cloves with the back of a wooden spoon.
- At this point you may have a very thick stew. Add water to desired consistency and debate whether to blend or leave as-is. (I blended the soup in the photo but the soup is amazing when left chunky.)
- Turn off heat. Stir in dill, lemon juice and greens and season with salt and pepper to taste.
I like to freeze leftovers in individual servings for quick and easy winter dinners.
Hope you’re keeping warm.