Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Super Lentils

If you haven't become a friend with the lentil, I will give you a little info on why you really should be. You see, the lentil is exactly the kind of friend you want in your kitchen. Nearly perfect in every way. A powerhouse.

The lentil has been around forever. It has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs so who knows really when they all began. They are in the legume family but small and disk shaped. You can store these little gems forever. You don't really need to seal them. They may loose a little color overtime but not really loose the taste. I just bought a big 25 pound bag from Azure that will last me a long time without having to can it at all. Easy Peasy.

The biggest draw in my book about the lentil is the amount of Folic acid they contain. One cup cooked lentils gives you about 90% of the daily RDA of folic acid. It has more folic acid than any other natural food. If you are pregnant, folic acid is extremely important in the growth of the baby so cook up a bowl today! Besides the folic acid, lentils are rich in iron and eaten with other foods high in vitamin C help the absorption rate of the iron increase. Lentils contain every amino acid except one; methionine. If you eat it with another nut, seed, eggs or meat, you will have a complete protein. Great for vegetarians.

Soluble fiber is also an important attribute of lentils. Soluble fiber helps clean out the digestive tract, decrease cholesterol and serum glucose. Most people don't get nearly enough of this in their diet.

Lentils are about the best thing to sprout also. When you sprout, the nutrients become "alive" and intensify. They are great on salads, in breads or in soups.

There are several varieties of lentils but for sprouting, you want to stick with green lentils. The other varieties are usually hulled.

I have added this soup recipe to 90 day supply because it is so tasty and uses ingredients I can keep on hand. You can also make this vegetarian but I like to use about 1 T of bacon for flavor. While I eat almost all vegetarian except once a week, at most; I don't really count 1 T. of bacon in a whole pot of soup. It adds to the flavor tremendously. My whole family loves this soup and in a pressure cooker it takes less than 10 minutes to have on the table. It is great with a big hunk of homemade brown bread or corn bread.

Lentil Bacon Soup

6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled ( I use 1 T. or more of bacon pieces)
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, cut into half moon shapes
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. tomato paste
1 1/2 C. lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 t. dried thyme
32 oz chicken broth
1 T. red wine vinegar (opt)
salt and pepper to taste
dash of red peppers if desired

In a large pot, add olive oil and heat on medium high heat. Add carrots and onion and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and bacon and cook about 30 seconds. stir in tomato paste and cook another minute. Don't let it burn or scorch.

Add the lentils, thyme, broth and 1 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils and veggies are tender, about 30-45 min. Add more water if needed during cooking.

Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

***If going gluten free, make sure the vinegar and broth are gluten free.

For the pressure cooker:

Saute onion for about a minute. Add in carrots, tomato paste, lentils, thyme , broth and water. Bring to second ring and pressure for about 3 minutes. Reduce pressure and add bacon pieces.Simmer until lentils are tender. Add in salt, pepper , vinegar and red pepper flakes if desired. If you find your beans are still pretty crunchy, you can return to pressure but you don't want the carrots to get mushy. Leave carrots in bigger chunks. Simmer lentils until the right texture. They don't take long.


Marry said...

I love love love lentil soup. I love the recipe in the Joy of Cooking Cook Book. I think I will try adding some bacon flavor next time. Thanks for the tip

RPH said...

Ohhhhhh....We love lentils in this house, I am going to have to try this one tomorrow! Thanks for sharing!

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Tracey said...

Lentil soup cooks great in the solar oven too!

Terri Burges Hirning said...

Thanks! I am trying to do more with lentils also. I just did a veggie burger with a lentil soup mix and brown rice. The kids gave it a thumbs up, guess that is good! I will have to try your recipe!

Anonymous said...

Can you do anything with lentils besides soup? Any suggestions? Also a fellow blogger at crapivemade dot blogspot dot com has a tutorial for a weighted blanket for autistic children some of your readers might be interested in.

DK said...

Hey Shari, I was going to try this next week but I don't have a pressure cooker, do you know how long I would need to cook it for in just a regular pot? Thanks, Deena (