While I enjoy cooking of all sorts, my heart truly lies with soups. It's what I studied in culinary school, and has always been my favorite dishes to make. That's why fall and winter are some of my favorite cooking months, because hearty soups like this lentil soup with chopped spinach are real stars.
While this dish is not vegan or vegetarian, it could easily be made so with a substitution of vegetable stock for the chicken stock. We try in our household to make at least 1 meal a week without meat and cut back on how much we are using. The addition of lentils in this dish increases the fiber while not having to sacrifice on the protein.
Lentils take a while to cook down, so you may find that you need to add some extra liquid at the end if a lot has been absorbed. It depends on how thick you want it. Make sure you don't add the spinach until the very end, it wilts easily and you want to keep the color as green as possible to contrast the lentils.
Lentil Soup with Spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ cups dried lentils
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes 14 oz.
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups baby spinach roughly chopped
- In a soup pot, heat olive oil. Add diced carrots, onions, and celery, along with the minced garlic. Allow to brown and cook down for about five minutes. Don't skip the browning, as this gives a lot of rich flavor to the soup.
- Add in dry lentils and cumin and cook for one minute while stirring. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the fresh spinach.
- Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and some have burst. Turn of heat, remove bay leaf, and add in fresh spinach. The residual heat will wilt the greens.