I can’t wait to share this recipe with you. If you’re looking for a low calorie, nutritionally-dense, and tasty soup….this is it! It’s simply perfect for a summer day, especially when your fridge is overflowing with garden produce to use up.
Here’s a bowl full of veggies my green-thumb friend, Nicole, sent me home with last week. This palette was quite an inspiration. You know cooking is art, don’t you?
Now, let’s talk lentils for a minute. Did I scare you off with a mention of those? If so, don’t shy away from these small round, lens shaped legumes. I hadn’t tried cooking with them until this recipe, and I tell you, I’m sold! Not only are they full of fiber and protein, but they made this soup hearty and rich-tasting. They really cook down in the broth, adding a buttery creaminess to the texture. The key, I learned, is using lots of seasoning to keep them from tasting bland in this soup.
One more thing to share before we get to the recipe. Would you believe that my kids even tried and ate some of this soup? All three of them–the 2, 4, and 6 year olds. That’s because they helped me pick the produce and chop it for the soup. The push to get kids in the kitchen isn’t just a nice theory. It really works if you’re wanting your children to try new foods and take an interest in where their food comes from.
My 6-year-old has become an expert chopper, as we’ve worked on his knife skills over the past year. My 4-year-old daughter isn’t too bad either. I usually give them a butter knife and it works fine, although I now trust my older son with a small sharp chopping knife. The 2-year-old picked herbs off the back porch for me and then proceeded to make his own “soup” while we cooked. What great fun in the kitchen (and quite a mess…yes…but worth it)!
Keep in mind, you can use all kinds of veggies in this recipe. Just toss in what you have on hand in place of the ones I suggest, if you want. Happy summer soup making!
A low calorie, nutritionally-dense, and tasty soup that’s simply perfect for a summer day or a cold winter night.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 cups onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup red lentils
- fresh thyme, bundle a few sprigs and tie together with kitchen twine or another sprig
- 2-3 large carrots or 1 bag of baby carrots, chopped
- 2 cups green beans, chopped
- 1 small to medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- fresh herbs (i.e. parsley, basil, etc), chopped, to taste
Note: Try to chop the vegetables about the same size and small enough to fit on a spoon bite.
- Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add onions, bay leaf, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Saute until softened. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Add lentils and thyme bundle and simmer about 10 minutes less than the lentil package directions call for.
- Add vegetables and simmer another 10 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf and thyme bundle. Top with freshly chopped herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serving suggestion: Top with fresh Parmesan cheese and serve with a good loaf of crusty bread.
Freezer Meal Instructions:
Cook soup completely and let cool. Put soup in freezer-safe container or bag. Freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw soup in refrigerator overnight. You can also warm it from frozen on the stovetop.
*Note, you may need to add some more water or broth because the vegetables will absorb some of the liquid.