When I told you last Thursday that I would have this recipe for you tomorrow, no one actually believed that right? Okay good, me either. Just making sure we’re on the same page.
Whenever Casey is out of town, I tend to not really cook the way I do when I’m cooking for two. I eat things like a whole tub of hummus, or three bowls of cereal for dinner. But last week, I had a friend coming over for dinner and figured I could do better than a box of Joe’s O’s at the dinner table.
She’s been going through a really rough couple of weeks and months, and I keep trying to think of something I can do make it better. I have tried to be a comfort by just being there to listen and talk, but I wanted to do something else. I know when I’m feeling blue, there is nothing I love more than a giant bowl of soup.
So that is exactly what I made – a giant pot of soup. We ate, we talked, and I hope it brought a bit of brightness to her week. This is actually my version of my favorite canned soup from Trader Joe’s. I eat it all the time for lunch, and now that I know I can make something similar at home, I can have a much fresher (much less expensive!) option. It is hearty, healthy, and perfect for these chilly winter days and nights.
Hearty Lentil Vegetable Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1-2 hours
Ingredients (6-8 servings)
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
4 medium carrots, sliced
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1.5 cups green French lentils
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups frozen green beans
2 handfuls fresh spinach
In a Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot, start by sautéing the garlic in a bit of olive oil until it begins to brown. Finely dice the onions, carrots, and celery and then add to the pot.
Cube the potatoes into bite sized pieces, and add after the onions have softened and begun to show browning. Once all the veggies have cooked for 10-15 minutes, add the vegetable broth, lentils, vinegar, and spices. Bring it up to a simmer, and then back down the heat – you don’t want this to cook at a boil.
Like I mentioned above, I used my favorite canned soup as the inspiration for this recipe. It’s such a quick and easy lunch option, with lots of good veggies as well as hearty lentils that fill me up with protein. But it’s also $1.99 per can, so I’m happy to replace the habit with something homemade. I can see making a big batch of this every few weeks!
Back to the instructions — Cover and allow the soup to simmer for at least an hour. The lentils will cook and the broth will thicken, so make sure to stir occasionally. The soup might seem very thick, but hold out on adding any more broth at this time – the green beans and spinach will thin it a bit at the end.
This is one of those soups that can cook for just an hour, or all day in a slow-cooker if you prefer. Once you’re ready to eat – add chopped frozen green beans and a few handfuls of fresh spinach. Stir the greens in until the spinach is wilted and the beans are warmed. This should thin the broth quite a bit, but if it needs extra veggie broth at this point, go ahead and add it. Finish seasoning with salt to taste.
Dish into individual bowls, and serve along side your favorite bread.
We had ours with roasted butternut squash quick bread, and it was a match made in heaven.
Even though this is a thick, hearty soup, the green beans and spinach keep it feeling light and fresh. This made an enormous amount of soup, and I’m sort of amazed at how quickly it all disappeared.
If you are having family in town for the holidays, this is a great meal to whip up for a group! I’ll be making it again when my family arrives in Seattle. As always, enjoy!