Most people who eat with me on a regular basis know that I don’t love soup. If someone invites me over and tries to pawn soup off on me as a meal, I will be externally polite…but internally crabby. So when I tell you that I love this soup, cook it often, and rely on it to nourish sick friends and family, please know I’m saying that as someone who does. not. praise. soup. Let’s talk about the features that make this recipe work for me and for Guiding Stars.
My issue with soup is almost always about satiety, not flavor. I like a nice green smoothie in the morning, when my body is still waking up, but on the whole, I like something to chew. Kale provides both fiber and chew. Lentils are less chewy, but they’re immensely filling. Texturally, this soup is a smorgasbord, as soup goes, which also helps me find it satisfying.
Watch out for added sodium and saturated fat in soups. It’s always fine to cook your onions in olive or vegetable oil, for example. Butter isn’t necessary. Meat broth tends to contain high amounts of salt and saturated fat alike. Low-sodium vegetable broth is always a choice to consider. And if you are using a meat-based broth, go for one with low sodium and low fat contents. Soup is also easy to salt at the table, so try cutting the salt down in any soup you’re making to see how it goes.
This soup also showcases two fantastic salt-free flavor additions that go a long way to giving full-bodied flavor to a low-sodium dish: lemon pepper and turmeric. Turmeric adds a little heat and a little muskiness, which is excellent in this soup. Lemon pepper adds a little acid in addition to pepper, which benefits many dishes. If you’re ever thinking a dish tastes a little flat, try adding a little acid before you add more salt. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
Another place where soup can fall short for me is color. Pile o’ uniformly colored slurry is not my favorite shade of dinner. This soup, however, is downright vibrant. Turmeric gives the broth and lentils a bit of a pleasant glow. Chunks of carrot and sweet potato offer pops of orange. And kale, cooked gently in at the last minute, offers some vibrant green. More colors make a dish more appealing, and they also diversify the nutrients you’re consuming. It’s a win all around.
The final point I love about this soup is that it’s cheap. It might be extra cheap for me because I grow kale, buy lentils in bulk, and make my own stock. Even if you have to buy all the ingredients, though, it’s an inexpensive dish. I love that about it, because I can always afford to make a big pot to share if someone I love is sick or needs a little extra support.
Thick, hearty, packed with flavorful veggies and two kinds of lentils, this soup is the best kind of comfort food for winter. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread.
Active Time: 20 min.
Total Time: 50 min.
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. lemon pepper
- 1 tsp. Italian herbs
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ cup green lentils
- ½ cup red lentils
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cups kale, chopped
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add all of the vegetables and salt. Saute until just softened.
- Stir in the lemon pepper, Italian herbs, red pepper and all lentils. Add the broth and stir. Turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes until veggies and lentils are tender.
- Puree about half of the soup to thicken.
- Turn off the heat and stir in remaining ingredients.