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Every New Year brings with it a slew of new “resolutions” to our lips.
“I’m going to lose weight.”
“I’m going to save more money.”
“I’m going to try more new things.”
Any variety of these common promises can be heard throughout the country and I am here to offer you a food than can help you achieve all of your goals for the New Year; the lentil.
I am a lentil-lover. It’s a hard confession to make, especially here in the South where lentils aren’t exactly one of the most popular legumes consumed. Lentils and cornbread isn’t a common dish on the Southern table. Some folks have no idea what a lentil is or maybe they have only read about them in the Bible or seen them in passing in the grocery store. Well, I am here to tell you, the lentil is a wonder bean.
Lentils have been around for several thousand years. Nutritionally, they are the third most protein-rich bean with a huge amount of fiber and iron to boot. They are the perfect food for vegetarians, dieters, diabetics, and everyone in between.
Unlike most beans, cooking lentils requires no forethought. They take no soaking or long-winded cook times. Most varieties are done in 20-30 minutes (red varieties take even less time). The taste and texture of lentils is not what you would expect either. They are earthy and creamy, with a smooth texture. The common brown variety is great for soups and stews while the green and red varieties are perfect for main and side dishes since they hold their shape better.
The cherry on the lentil is the fact that they are cheap; really cheap. A pound of lentils is less than $2 and can provide as many meals as a pound of regular beans (without all of the cooking!).
So, be brave! Eat some lentils.
- 3 slices bacon chopped
- 2 cups medium onions chopped (about 2 )
- 3 cloves of garlic smashed
- 2 medium baking potatoes peeled and chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped
- 1 cup dried lentils
- ½ cup dry white wine (i.e. Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc)(optional)
- 1 quart low sodium fat free chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 t sprig of thyme or 1 . dried thyme
- ½ cup half & half
- In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to drain and reserve about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan. To the drippings add the onion and cook until just beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, potatoes, carrots and lentils and cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the wine and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Pour in the stock, bay leaf and thyme, cover and simmer for one hour or until the vegetables are very tender.
- Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (or if you have an immersion or stick blender use it) and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the half & half. Reheat over low heat. Serve with bacon on top.
- Tip: Need more meat? Thinly slice and sauté smoked sausage to serve on top.