Eat Well, Spend Less: Five Ways With Lentils (Curried Lentil Soup)

This month for our Eat Well, Spend Less series we’re talking about emergency preparedness. We were hit fairly hard by Hurricane Irene recently and lost power for 18 hours; others fared much worse.

We were scrambling a little for things like flashlight batteries and warm blankets, but all in all, we didn’t suffer much during the outage. Still, it was a fair warning that we could -and should- be better prepared next time. While the Texas fires may not be warming our doorsteps, we never know what we might need to be prepared for. Certainly a few snow days are in my future, although I’ve got a few months before I have to worry about that!

We’ve talked about the benefit of a well-stocked pantry, but how much more valuable does it become during a crisis or natural disaster predicament? Suddenly those cans of lentils, tuna and beans are looking particularly fine, wouldn’t you say so?

Lentils are one of my favorite staples to have around – for main meals or sides – and today I’m going to show you why.

For the Love of Lentils

There’s a permanent place in my pantry for lentils of all kinds – red, French, green and brown. Here are a few of the reasons why:

Versatile. Lentils don’t quite the the same reputation for versatility as say, rice or potatoes, but they actually can be served up many ways (five of them I’ll share below in the links). Hot, warm or cold? They can be served at any temperature. Soup or salad? Both! Side dish or main? Either.

Frugal. Plain rice or beans may top lentils for cheap eats, but when they replace meat as a protein, such as in the burgers below, that is when you’ll start to see them benefit your budget.

Quick-cooking. Lentils do not require a soak in water before cooking and only need about 30 minutes of simmering, making their cooking time hours faster than beans and equal to brown rice. Of course, canned lentils are an instant option, as long as you don’t mind sacrificing texture for time.

Healthy. Okay, so we know lentils are packed with protein, but how about full of fiber? Check. High in iron? Yep, and thus a smart choice for vegetarians and folks who don’t eat a lot of red meat.

Dry Storage. Honestly, anything I can pack into jars and add to the pantry shelves is a winner in my books. I don’t have to worry about combating freezer burn or jostling for fridge space.

Five Ways with Lentils

  1. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. This vegetarian take on a classic comfort food is popular among all of our family members – and that is saying a lot!
  2. Simple French Lentil Soup with Bacon. So easy and SO good, especially during the cooler months. This recipe also freezes great.
  3. Black Bean & Lentil Burgers. Another meatless main dish option that the whole family loves. For ease, this recipe can be made with canned lentils.
  4. Warm Lentil Salad with Parsley. French lentils studded with sautéed carrot, celery and onion and then tossed in a French-style vinaigrette; from Patent and the Pantry.
  5. Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Curry. Our current favorite soup, courtesy of Super Natural Every Day. Recipe below.

This soup is on regular rotation for our lunches, especially now that the cooler weather has arrived. I love it because all of the ingredients are pantry staples, so if the fridge shelves are looking bare, I know I always have a warm, nourishing meal to fall back on with this soup.

The recipe is slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Green Lentil Soup with Brown Butter from her latest book, Super Natural Every Day. I highly recommend it!

Coconut Curried Green Lentil Soup
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Recipe type: Soup
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil (or unsalted butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon good quality curry powder, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Garnish options
  • fresh chopped chives
  • yogurt
  • pinch of curry powder
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, then add curry powder, garlic, and onion. Saute for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  2. Add vegetable stock and green lentils. Bring soup to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat. Simmer for between 20 and 50 minutes (or until lentils are tender; mine typically take about 50 minutes).
  3. Once the lentils have finished cooking, remove soup from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and salt. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or regular blender (in batches if using regular blender) until it is as smooth or as chunky as you prefer.
  4. Serve immediately with your choice of garnish.

 

Be sure to check out the other participating bloggers in our Eat Well, Spend Less series. For the duration of the week they will be adding their take on bring prepared for and cooking through emergencies. I’ll update this post with their links as they go live.

~ For more weekly menu plans, visit Menu Plan Monday. ~

Have you cooked with lentils before? What is your favorite way to serve them?

 

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe; we love coconut curry but never thought of applying those flavors to lentils!

  2. I also have jars and jars of lentils in my pantry. Lately I’ve been particularly partial to red lentils and the small brown and green French lentils, but the brown lentils you can find in every supermarket will do for most recipes, and they’re available and inexpensive. Thanks for highlighting some great lentil soup recipes.
    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)’s last post: Recipe for green chile cheeseburgers

  3. We really need to eat more lentils. James has recently really got into curried lentils, so I should try introducing them to him in other recipes.
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Turkey Taco Salad

  4. I love lentil soup. Can’t wait to try your version
    alison @ Ingredients, Inc.’s last post: Fun and Creative Halloween Ideas

  5. I’ve never cooked with lentils before. I’m going to pick some up when I go to the grocery store this week. :)

  6. These pictures are beyond beautiful.. and the recipe sounds divine!

  7. We are big on the lentils here at our house. We make lentil soup, stewed lentils to accompany salmon, curried lentils and lentil burgers. I love their versatility.
    Melissa’s last post: Welcoming the rain (Freezer Friendly Crisp Topping)

  8. Love me some lentils. Have yet to ever cook with red lentils – definitely trying those soon.

    Sound like some good recipes!
    Lisa @ Life in Green’s last post: Garden Review – September 11-17

  9. Aimee, I love lentils and I’m so looking forward to trying your recipes. The other nice thing about lentils is that they are one of the easiest beans to digest. So if you have a hard time with other beans, you may have an easier time with lentils. I often toss a cup in with a cup of brown rice and cook them together for a one pot meal/snack.

    Here’s my standby lentil soup recipe – packed with good vegetables!

    http://fitfamilytogether.com/lentil-soup-recipe-for-active-families-on-the-move

    (Funny, it’s delicious with sardines!)
    Sarah @ Fit Family Together’s last post: Ultimate Guide For Better Brain Health

  10. Looks fantastic! I love lentils ever since I tried your Shepherd’s pie (a huge hit by the way) and this soup looks so great! I also made a lentil pot pie a few months ago that you might like http://yellebellyboo.blogspot.com/2011/08/lentil-pot-pie.html – let me know if you try it!
    d.liff @ yelleBELLYboo’s last post: Falafel with Chipotle Mayo and Spicy Homemade Hummus

  11. You always have such great meal ideas. I love that I can save these recipes on Pinterest, and come back to them whenever I need some dinnertime inspiration. I never think to eat lentils, but don’t eat very much red meat, so they’re going to jump right into regular use around here.
    Thanks so much!
    Shauna’s last post: Pack of Gift Card Holders

  12. We cook lentils all the time. Dried ones are the way to go. Canned lentils tastes very off in my opinion. I use a pressure cooker for all my lentils.
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com’s last post: Breakfast galore!

  13. I am learning to eat more healthy, we had quinoa last night. I’ll need to try lentils as well. Thanks for these ideas!
    Bernice
    Successful Woman’s Resource Center’s last post: Fighting Bloggy Burnout

  14. You are inspiring me to make lentils! I have quite a few kinds just waiting to be used, thanks for the reminder of how versatile and easy they can be to make.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen’s last post: mixed berries in rosé wine with honey mascarpone | a summery fruit soup

  15. I just made lentil soup for the first time, fell in love with it, and was wondering what else I can do with lentils – thank you for this post! :-)

  16. I’ve only tried brown lentils, but I’ll have to get some of the other ones. Is there a big difference between them?
    Rebecca’s last post: Baby’s First Sugar & the $5 Challenge

  17. Thanks for sharing these tips. I like to add lentils to bolognese sauces and lasagnes to bulk them out so I don’t need as much meat.

    My husband is a big fan of Dhal Bhat, which he grew to love when he lived in Nepal. I’m sure he’d be keen for me to make more of that with lentils too.

  18. I like drinking soup.I this kind of soup are easy to prepare thank you for giving on how to make this.
    Samantha’s last post: glass tableware

  19. Thanks for sharing! I am in love with lentils, I cook them almost every week. One of my favorites is chana dal (gram lentils), they have a good flavor and hold their shape instead of getting mushy: http://www.witchy-kitchen.com/2011/07/coconutty-chana-dal

    That soup looks delicious, especially with the little chill that’s been in the air!
    Carrie’s last post: Kale Chips

  20. i am new to this so…..do you have to do anything special to the canning jars before storing lentils or other similar items in them in the pantry? do you label items and dates, and if so how without looking junky after awhile? thanks :)

  21. We love lentils too. My husband’s new favorite way to eat them is a stew I concocted from lentils, white beans, chicken sausage, and spaghetti sauce.

    Meanwhile, I am looking forward to trying your curried soup for lunch some day soon! Thanks!
    Julia’s last post: Elderberry Applesauce: An Experiment

  22. Super Natural Every Day is my new favourite cookbook, and I’m making the recipes faster than I can eat them. I didn’t get to this one yet, so I made your version for lunch today and it was fantastic!

  23. Nice – I had blackbean/lentil meatloaf last week, and have been meaning to try to get that recipe, because it was SO delicious – and now I find a blackbean/lentil burger recipe on your site. Serendipity rocks!

    That said, one of my favorite recipes (I’ve never figured out exactly why my kids love this so much, but I don’t question it!) with lentils is Kosheri. My take on it (as loved by my kids) is posted on my site:

    http://www.naturallyradiant.info/site/kosheri/

  24. Gorgeous photos and these recipes all sound yummy!
    Robyn | Add a Pinch’s last post: Simple Smashed Potatoes

  25. Thanks for the ideas! We’ve been craving colder nights so we can enjoy our favorite lentil soup! http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/dining/091arex.html

  26. I can’t wait to try this soup! Now if the weather would cooperate – right now it’s 80 degrees outside the humidity is 95% – and I live in NJ!
    Evelyn Cucchiara’s last post: It’s Fall – Let the Kettle Corn POP!

  27. Just made the curried green lentil soup and it was a hit! Made it a little thicker and added potatoes to it. Love it with rice.
    Sarah @ Fit Family Together’s last post: Ultimate Guide For Better Brain Health

  28. I made this for dinner tonight. My french green lentils were much more green than yours, making the end result a tad unappetizing looking, but the flavor was delicious!

    And, since you asked another commenter what she uses red lentils in, I thought I’d share one of the recipes I like to cook over the winter. It’s from Kayln’s Kitchen: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/10/recipe-for-spicy-red-lentil-and.html

    The only thing to note about red lentils (and you probably know this) is that they cook faster and can therefore turn mushy quickly.
    Nicole’s last post: Cranberry Apple Pumpkin Muffins

  29. This sounds delicious! I’m planning a soup swap at my home. Does anyone know if this soup would freeze well? I know lentils freeze well, but not so sure about this one with the coconut milk in it. Thanks!

  30. I have not imagined lentils can provide us these benefits. Thank you for sharing this blog, I have learned things about Lentils for my meals.
    Shalani’s last post: surgical

  31. I can’t wait to try this soup! It sounds wonderful and wonderfully healthy. However, I found counting calories was the only way that works for me. Any idea how many calories are in this soup?

  32. I’ve made this soup several times and my whole family (including a picky two-year-old) LOVES it! I altered it a bit by using red lentils and Madras curry paste because that’s what I had on hand. So delicious and high in protein.
    Courtney’s last post: The winner is…

  33. THANK YOU!!! I just made the lentil shepard’s pie last night and everyone loved it! Both my guys had two plates and we finished the last part for lunch today. Thanks again for all your yummy recipes. My family is healthier because of them :)

  34. Yummy! Thank You! This Coconut Curried Green lentil soup is delicous! I added some fresh cilantro when I blended! Thank’s for the inspiration! ☆ ~N~

  35. Hi,

    Here is one of my favorite ways to use lentils (and it’s vegan too) :)
    http://www.quitehungry.com/today-i-made/vegetarian-lentil-stew/
    Andrew Brusnahan’s last post: Man In Italy Accused of Eating Adopted Cats

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