So, today’s recipe and post are about lentils: the little legume that could. Lentils are a subject that I’ve been researching, writing about, and presenting on for the past few months. Instead of boring you about my work, you can read about it HERE or HERE. As a result of my work, I feel like I really know lentils now and I want everyone to get to know them, too. My colleagues (fellow grad students) and I wrote a booklet regarding the subject of lentils. A copy of it is POSTED ON MY WEBSITE. It’s a good overview regarding the agricultural, nutritional, and culinary aspects of organic lentils.
Realizing that you may not want to read a big document let me give you the Cliff’s Notes version. In terms of agriculture, Montana is the leading producer of both organically and conventionally grown lentils in the United States. However, most of the lentils we grow are shipped overseas to India and Africa. Additionally, they are a great crop for farmers to grow due to their ability to grow in semi-arid regions and ability to fix nitrogen in the soil.
High in protein, fiber, folate, iron, and calcium, lentils pack a powerful nutritional punch. Lentils also have about 45% more antioxidants than blueberries (I know – what?!). Yeah. Lentils rock.
To get the most out of their nutritional benefits, you should soak them first before using. Eight to twelve hours is long enough to increase their nutritional benefit. Even sprouting (a whole other blog post) will increase the nutritional powerhouse even more.
All right, now let’s get down to the nitty gritty: the cooking. While there are lots (and I mean lots) of recipes utilizing lentils, I’ve chosen to share a vegan soup recipe. Why? It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s delicious.
Enjoy! And don’t forget to eat your lentils.
Red Lentil and Winter Squash BisqueMakes 6, 1 cup servings
- 1 medium acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon Thai red chili paste (like Sambal)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup red lentils*
- 1 cup coconut milk (canned is best)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Juice of 1 lime
*The red lentils can be soaked ahead of time for 8-12 hours in the refrigerator. When ready to make the soup, drain the lentils.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with a teaspoon of olive oil. Place the acorn squash flesh side down on the foil. Bake until the squash is tender, about 20-30 minutes (depends on the size of the squash). Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Peel off the skin and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the flesh for the soup.
While the squash is cooking, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Season the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. Add the Thai red chili paste; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and the lentils; season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Add the squash to the soup. Cook for another 10 minutes or so. With a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add the coconut milk. Blend to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Serve in warm bowls garnished with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to Marcy for sharing this delicious recipe with us! For more great recipes, visit Marcy at Cooking Rut.
If you have a vegan recipe which you'd like to share, please contact me HERE. And for all the recipes we've shared so far, be sure to visit our recipe page using the tabs at the top of this blog ... or by clicking HERE.
Recipe and image courtesy of Marcy at Cooking Rut