Months ago I was looking for a cheap, versatile, and healthy, meatless recipe. I thought beans would be awesome, but lentils may just be awesom-er. I’ve had lentils in various dishes, but had never cooked them myself. Since trying lentils for the first time and adding my own spin to the dish, I have made this my go-to meal whenever I want something simple and that will last all week. This stuff also freezes well and can be used as a main course or side dish. This recipe is more of a stew consistency, but more liquid can be added to give it a soup like texture. If you love the taste of lentils, but despise the texture, try blending the cooked mix for a smooth finish.
Now what usually happens is I go through the fridge and try get rid of as much produce before it goes bad. So the flavors will vary. Usually I have a few cloves of garlic, carrots, greens (kale, spinach, broccoli), celery, and onion on hand. However, after watching an episode of Gordan Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course, I decided to give leeks a try. Now, I’ve never had leeks in any dish and could only go by what Mr. Ramsay had to say. Supposedly leeks are often used in place of onion and are sweet. Sounded good to me! So I gave it a shot. The most awesome part about this soup is that it costs about $1.25 per serving or cheaper if you already have most of these ingredients on hand.
Below, I’ve tried my best to break down the recipe, possible substitutes, and a few price points/tips. Feel free to divide ingredients by half because this recipe makes a lot. Another tip for those of you who prefer to skip the instructions and get straight to the cooking, be mindful of the amount of salt that goes into this recipe especially if you’re using broth instead of water. I would recommend skipping the additional salt if you’re NOT using low-sodium broth or just water.
$1.25 Lentil Stoup
1 cup Lentils (No soaking needed)
1 med. Onion, chopped
1 Leek, chopped
3 Carrot stalks, chopped
1-2 med. Zucchini, chopped
1 cup Mushrooms, sliced (any type)
1 cup Kale or Green Leafy Veggie (frozen or fresh)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil
4 cups Water or low-sodium Broth (veggie, beef, chicken, etc)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Paprika or Chili Pepper ( optional kick)
1/4 Avocado, topping (optional)
1. If you’re using bouillon cubes to make your broth , make it first by boiling the recommended amount of water. Follow instructions found on package. For this recipe, I used Not-Chick’n vegan broth cubes. Add 2-4 cups of liquid per 1 cup of lentils (Follow cooking instructions on lentil package, some lentils require less liquid). Make a little more broth if you prefer stoup to be looser. If you’re just using water, no worries, move to the next step.
2. Rinse and chop onion, leek, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. (Leeks tend to keep a bit of grit inside near the bottom of the stalk. You can remove the grit by making slices length wise and spreading layers under running water to remove dirt.)
3. Add olive oil to a large pan or pot and turn heat to Medium. Add veggies allow them to cook down (sweat) for about 5-7 minutes or longer depending on your preference. Add garlic last to prevent from burning. At this point I would also add salt and pepper.
4. When veggies have sweated enough, add dry lentils and stir until spread throughout veggie mixture.
5. Add broth and allow mixture to simmer with lid (allow lid to partially hang off pot to allow steam to escape) low-medium high for 15-20 minutes. Depending on your preference, you may want to cook them longer. Add kale or other green leafy veggies 5 minutes before done given they cook faster than the other veggies.
6. Top with slices of avocado or the following substitutes.
Healthy Journey, ENJOY!
*Follow the directions on the back of lentil packaging. Some lentil recipes vary in the amount of water needed. As you try different ways to make this recipe, you will get an idea of what you like best.
*Don’t be afraid to buy lentils in bulk from specialty stores. You may get a better deal per pound and have the opportunity to try different kinds that cannot be found in the typical grocery store. You also get to control the amount of food you want and satisfy your budget. Can’t afford 1 lb? Measure out 1/2 or 1/4 lb instead.
*1 cup of dried lentils = 4 servings…………………1 lb= 16 servings (Now that’s awesome!)
Lentils—————–> Red, Green, or Brown Lentils
Carrots —————> Sweet Potatoes
Kale——————–> Spinach or Swiss Chard
Paprika (spices)—————————>Curry Powder, Ground Cumin or Cilantro
Avocado————————————–>Fried Egg, shredded chicken or beef, shrimp, soy crumbles
1 lb Lentils (16 servings) = $2.50-$3.50
1 med. onion = $.80- $1.00
1 Leek, chopped = $.80- $1.00
1 lb Carrot stalks= $1.00- $2.00
1-2 med. Zucchini = $1.00-$1.50
1 cup Mushrooms, sliced = $1.00-$2.50 (fresh is usually more expensive than canned)
1 lb. Kale or Green Leafy Veggie (frozen or fresh) = $2.50- $3.00
2 Garlic = $1.00
Bouillon cubes (veggie, beef, chicken, etc)= $2.50
1 Avocado = $1.00- $2.00
* Per serving this recipe will cost you $1.25. You can feed a family of 4 for just $5.
*Prices will vary depending on whether or not you purchase conventional or organic, frozen or fresh, on sale or regular price or in bulk.
*Bouillon cubes (broth) are typically a better buy than purchasing in cans because the cubes yield more broth. A pack of 8 cubes will yield about 16 cups. With this recipe, you can make 4 batches.