Friday, May 9, 2014

Grandma’s homemade lentil soup: Poor man’s lentil soup recipe

You've got dried beans -- from wherever -- food outreach program, WIC or you bought them because they were inexpensive. Now what? Here's an easy recipe, yes, I promise it's easy. If you have a soup pot, a knife, water, salt and a few veggies you can make this lentil soup.
Lentil soup made easy -- you don't need to use a beef or ham stock -- water will do just fine
This is my Grandma’s homemade lentil soup recipe, or as Grandma used to call it, Poor Man’s lentil soup. 
I’ve made a few tweaks over the years, but the basic recipe has stayed the same. This makes a LOT of soup so you may want to make only half the recipe. My family loves lentil soup and it doesn't last long around our house.

One thing all of my Grandmothers’ taught me was to waste nothing. I make my own vegetable broth from scraps and peelings. Any time I trim celery or peel carrots or remove the peel from an onion it goes into a bag in the freezer until there is enough to throw into the crock pot (or a pot on the stove) and cook down for vegetable broth.

Pump up the nutrition factor without adding too many calories or spending a lot of money, add 4 ounces of chopped frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained (squeeze all the water out) to the soup the last 20 minutes. Stir to incorporate. This will thicken the soup up a bit and you may find that you need to add more water and increase the heat to medium-high to get it hot and bubbly again.

No frozen spinach? Use a can of drained spinach. No spinach? Use a can of drained mixed vegetables. Remember the key is, use what you have, and don’t be afraid to experiment with what YOU have on hand.

If you decide to use a can or two of mixed vegetables you can skip the celery and carrots in this recipe.
This lentil soup recipe will make about 10 to 12 one-cup servings, at the average cost of about 15¢ to 20¢ per serving.

This lentil soup makes a delicious and nutritious meal all on its own or you can serve with any kind of sandwich. Try tuna, chicken salad, turkey, ham, grilled cheese, whatever you have in your kitchen.

Grandma’s lentil soup recipe
Ingredients for Poor Man’s Lentil Soup:
  • 8 cups water or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup carrots, diced
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced OR 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil or 1 Tbsp. margarine or butter
  • 2 cups dried brown lentils, picked over to remove any stones
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How to make Grandma’s lentil soup:
  • Add oil to a 4 to 6-quart stock pot and heat on medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened, but do not let get brown.
  • Add carrots, celery and water, or vegetable broth.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then add the lentils and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until lentils are soft and soup is thick.
Rachael's recipe notes:
  • You may need to add more water about halfway through cooking, so keep an eye on the pot. If the pot starts to boil, reduce heat from medium-low to low and uncover.
  • You want the thickness of this soup to be between a soup and a stew, that's what makes it hearty.

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