Posts Tagged ‘lentils’

[Ed. note: Why yes, that  bowl of soup is sitting on an armchair. It happened to be the brightest spot in my apartment at that given moment. Here in the dark Canadian winter, you take sunlight anyway you can get it. ] 

This week presents particular challenges to our digestive systems. We’re just recovering from a weekend in which holiday parties reached a feverish pitch. You’ve likely indulged in a good deal of tasty treats that were thrust your way, or just happened to be lying around, generously placed there just for you. But you know there’s more significant eating yet to come in the very near future. And you know what that means?

You need to pace yourself.

After all, you probably have just a couple of working days before the world shuts down for a little while. Slow workdays in which you will probably be too close to the plate of cookies or candy that seem to have take up permanent residence much too near to your desk. You need a lunch (or dinner) to help create some balance.  A bowl of soup, perhaps. Something easy to make. Something sustaining. Something with fibre. Something with  – dare I say it? – bacon.

I know, I know. Bacon, by rights, has no place in a healthy dish, but hear me out.  The lentils and greens are what make you feel better about yourself, but lentils usually need a lot of help to taste good. To compensate for an otherwise earthy, bland taste, you need something strong and flavourful. In this case I’ve used a fairly lean prosciutto to minimize the bacon fat, but in a pinch you could use pancetta or regular bacon.

Also, I bet you already have everything you need to make this soup on hand.

Lentil and prosciutto soup
serves 4 to 6

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup (3 oz.) prosciutto or pancetta, cut 1/2″ thick and diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch dried chili flakes 
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 large carrot, diced
1 or 2 ribs of celery, diced
1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups chopped kale, swiss chard or spinach
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the prosciutto (or pancetta or bacon) until slightly browned and some fat is rendered. If you’re using fatty bacon, now would be a good time to pour off some of the grease before you proceed, ;eaving some fat in the pan.

Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic, chili flakes and tomato paste; mix well and cook one or two minutes until some of the tomato paste starts to caramelize in the pan. Add the celery, carrot, lentils and stock; bringt to a boil and let simmer until the lentils and vegetables are cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.   Just before serving, add the greens and season to taste.

With a salad, bread and a hunk of cheese, it makes a perfect winter meal.


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This week in No Food Left Behind, I made a dent in my stash of dried lentils, used up some nuts and finished up the breadcrumbs I had in my freezer with this tasty recipe. They’re like falafels, but without that messy deep frying. They’re crispy and hearty, and a really satisfying vegetarian dish. 

They’re also fairly versatile – you can make them as full-sized burgers and eat them on pitas, or make tiny patties and serve them as appetizers. (I made them small this time, because I like cute food.) I have served them with a full spread of mezze-style salads and dips, but they’re just as good with nothing more than a side salad. Although! I would recommend taking an extra two minutes to mix some chopped green onions and cilantro into a bit of yogurt for a tasty raita to drizzle on top, as follows:

Lentil walnut burgers
serves 4

3/4 cup lentils
3/4 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, and almonds are all tasty choices)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the lentils are cooked through but still holding their shape. This takes about 15 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until fragrant – about 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the lentils, nuts, breadcrumbs (if using), garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Move the mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the egg.

With your hands, shape the patties. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the burgers until browned on each side – about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.


3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 green onion, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper


* If you can’t eat breadcrumbs for some reason, just replace this amount with extra nuts.

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