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Lentil Soup

How many pieces of pie have you eaten in the past two days? I have eaten three. That means I’ve eaten almost a whole day’s worth of calories in the past two days, JUST FROM PIE. Cue the lentils.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Lentils are CRAZY good for you. Lentils are legumes, like peanuts and dried beans (black beans, navy beans, black eyed peas – my high school kids always laugh at that one like I named the beans after the band). They are full of fiber, protein and iron. For people who don’t eat a lot of meat (especially women), iron is something you can easily get deficient in, possibly leading to anemia. In fact, after watching Food Inc, I cooled it on meat for a while. I started getting pass-out-tired on the treadmill and was cold ALL the time. Turned out I was mildly anemic and I started taking iron supplements. I wish I’d known about iron-laden lentils back then!

These are quick to prepare and don’t taste like much; they generally take on the flavor of whatever you cook them in/with. In a broth-based soup, the lentils become even more of a post-holiday friend. Make a big pot on Sunday and eat this for lunch or dinner each day till it’s gone; your body will love you for it and you will avoid the 5 average pounds American’s gain between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Also, you may toot more than you normally do.

Lentil Soup

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 6

3 slices bacon

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 c. lentils, rinsed and picked over (for duds)

1 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

1/2 c. dry white wine, like chardonnay

4 c. chicken broth

1 c. water

1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp. fresh minced parsley leaves

1. Fry bacon in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat until crisp. Remove and chop, leaving at least 1 tbsp. fat in the pan (or all, depending on your preference).

2. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally for about two minutes.

3. Add garlic and reserved chopped bacon and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds on until fragrant.

4. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

5. Stir in lentils, salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until veggies are softened and lentils have darkened, 10 minutes.

7. Uncover, increase heat to high and add wine. Bring to simmer.

8. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, about 30 minutes.

9. Discard bay leaf and puree 3 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth. Add back to the pot.

10. Stir vinegar and two tablespoons of the parsley into soup. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with remaining parsley.