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Nutrient Dense Lentil Soup

There is not much to dislike about lentils.  Lentils cook fast and are heart-healthy.  They lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels.  Plus, they absorb almost any flavor that you cook with them, making them an excellent choice for a quick-cooking gluten-free bean soup.  Lentils contain only 230 calories per cup of cooked lentils.  You can purchase lentils in yellow, red-orange, green, brown or black varieties.  I remember reading somewhere that they fill you up – not out!

We had a party on New Year’s Day and had some leftover from an antipasto platter.  I took the prosciutto and other types of rolled ham and used them to make this delicious lentil soup.  You can substitute any type of cooked ham or leave it out for a vegetarian version of the soup.  This is delicious served with some shaved parmesan on top.  Serve this with a salad and some nice gluten-free bread and you will have a lovely dinner.

To make a vegetarian version, don’t use the meat and use vegetable broth or water, not chicken broth.

1 16oz. bag lentils (any color)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cooked ham, prosciutto, or other smoked pork (diced)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups water or gluten-free chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse lentils in a strainer and remove any unwanted pieces.

In a medium stock pot heat oil over medium heat.  Add ham, onion, carrot, celery and garlic and heat until onion is translucent but not browned, approximately 3 minutes.  Add water, lentils, thyme and paprika.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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