Hearty Potato Lentil Soup

Don’t “they” say that soup is a cure-all? But I wonder if even this hearty potato lentil soup can stand up to the major events that have rocked 2020 in Philippines so far. On January 12 the Taal volcano erupted with a cloud of ash that could be seen from the NASA satellites, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes for weeks and ending generations-long livelihoods. While we were still sweeping up ash from our streets, rooftops, and kitchen windowsills, an eruption of another type was taking place: the 2019 Novel Corona virus. Its rapid spread throughout Asia has compelled us to wear masks in public, caused major events to be cancelled and postponed, imposed severe travel restrictions throughout the region, and cast a feeling of general fear and uneasiness over us all. I have to say I’ve been thrown off my A-game, and despite my best intentions, posting on this space in January just felt out of reach.

However, God is good all the time, and He can use even the worst circumstances to bring about His purposes. I stand on that faith in times like these, knowing He will bring us through.

I’ve also found that doing ordinary, day-to-day things, like getting a fresh hair cut (much needed, by the way!), working out, and being in the kitchen making soup like this restores a sense of balance and normalcy to an otherwise chaotic-seeming world.

I can’t think of anything more comforting than this hearty lentil soup, which I’ve coincidentally (?) made several times this past month! It’s so satisfying with the earthy lentils, creamy potatoes, flecks of spinach, and garlicky broth. The ultimate in comfort food!

Even though it’s a lentil soup, it comes together quickly, as the lentils only take 20-25 minutes to cook. I boil them separately from the rest of the soup to ensure their tenderness. Meanwhile, in my big soup pot, I saute the onions & carrots, add the seasonings, potatoes, cauliflower, and veggie broth, and simmer the whole thing to perfect tenderness in about the same amount of time it takes the lentils to cook. Then I just add the lentils and their broth along with some fresh spinach, taste and adjust the seasonings, and voila, dinner is served!

We always eat crusty bread with this soup to soak up the extra broth, and the kids also add rice to their bowl. Very Pinoy of them… and very carb-a-licous! But you do you… it’s really a meal on its own: protein from the lentils, carbs from the lentils and potatoes, Vitamins A & C from the veggies, and plenty of fiber. This soup is naturally vegan and gluten-free, but if you’re not vegetarian, a little smoked ham or chorizo would be a fabulous addition.

Soup won’t cure everything, friends! But it sure will give us strength to endure, and put a smile on our faces as we do. May God bless us all during these trying times. Love you!

Hearty Potato Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings

Hearty Potato Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown lentils, rinsed & picked over
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 t. thyme
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • ½ T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower, cut in small florets
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, boil the lentils in water to cover for about 20-25 minutes or until tender, adding water as necessary to keep them covered at all times. Set aside when done. Do not drain.
  • Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the carrots, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and cauliflower, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes & cauliflower are tender.
  • Add the cooked lentils along with most or all of the cooking liquid depending on how thick you like your soup. At this point I like to mash a little of the soup with a potato masher to blend it just a bit, but leave most of the texture intact.
  • Add the spinach last and stir until it wilts. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes 6-8 servings.
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