Get Out Of Your Winter Rut With This Simple & Healthy Recipe

Photo: Courtesy of Crunchy Radish.
By Miranda Hammer

This month is all about manifesting my insatiable love for soup. Not only are soups typically forgiving and flexible, they can be quite amenable to augmentation if you happen to run out of a particular spice or herb. A hearty soup or stew can be repurposed for multiple meals throughout the week, alleviating much of the 8 p.m., just home from work/gym, hangry drama. For my take on lentil soup, I enriched the flavors with smoked paprika, spicy chili powder, and warm and earthy cumin to add a distinct robustness to this hearty winter soup. A handful of baby kale is added right before eating for added nutrient density and a burst of color. 

Lentils are a fantastic economical plant-based protein.  These small but mighty legumes are simple to cook and are loaded with numerous nutritional benefits. Lentils are high in dietary fiber, which help with digestion, satiety, and cardiovascular health. Lentils are also a good source of vegetarian iron, an essential mineral needed for oxygen transportation in the blood and for proper metabolism. Pairing an iron containing food with vitamin C (which is found in kale) assists with optimizing iron absorption. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Crunchy Radish.
Smoky Lentil Soup With Kale
4-6 servings 

Ingredients
2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsps dried oregano
1 tsp pimentón or paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled, chopped 
2 ribs celery, chopped
1  14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1  1/3 cup french lentils, picked over, rinsed, and drained
4 cups sodium-free vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
2 cups baby kale 
Champagne vinegar 

Instructions
In a Dutch oven or deep pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add all of the spices, and toast for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in carrots, celery, and garlic, and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add 2 tbsps of tomatoes to the pot, deglaze pan, and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Add lentils, toss to coat with the vegetables, and stir in the rest of tomatoes. Allow flavors to meld together for 10 minutes. Add in vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. When ready to eat, place a handful of kale in a soup bowl, pour in soup, and finish with a drizzle of vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. 
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