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Thursday, May 03, 2007

shades of mediocrity

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This really wasn't all that yummy. To be frank, it was kinda bland. And it tasted like it was really good for you.

But the crux is, it really is so obnoxiously good for you that I felt compelled to share. In this lowly little recipe, there are 14 grams of fibre per serving, as well as tons of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, protein, etc.

It's longevity in a bowl, people.

I have to apologize again, as you're in for another lunchtime quickie (feeling used yet?). Evenings have been quite crazy and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment.

So back to lentil soup.....I really did try to save this recipe, but lentils have this irritating tendency to suck the flavour out of a even though it seems as though this is probably overseasoned, it's still on the bland side. Lentils are another one of those superfoods that appear and reappear on all those lists of things we should all eat all the time. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them, personally. Sometimes, they are the best thing ever (like in dal), but other times they are just so mushy and meh. I'm sure the mushiness factor is not vastly improved by my habit of using mostly the red ones (which cook down to mush). I just like how quick they are. And they're pretty.

And I'm a sucka for a pretty lentil.

And in keeping with hubs' low-sodium demands, I used all low-salt ingredients, though I will confess to shaking a little bit on my own serving as it absolutely was crying out for it. But if you're trying to be healthy, you should make this soup.

Because you not eating it makes for a great diet.

And you know what the worst part of this soup is? The deception. I didn't just make up the recipe, I actually went and found it on, where it had many accolades and lauds and all the general credentials that make me think that a recipe won't be crap. And it wasn't quite crap, but when you use low-sodium broth, it sure is verging on it....

See the original recipe on

Reflecting the cuisines of Israel and the surrounding Mediterranean Middle Eastern countries, this meatless stew is seasoned with mint and lemon. Serve it with sesame seed rolls and a tomato and cucumber salad; have pistachio ice cream for dessert.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups red lentils, rinsed, picked over
1 pound purple potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 limes
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed (you could up this to a whole package!)
1-2 hot peppers
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 t cinnamon
1 T red wine vinegar

Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth and lentils; bring to boil.
red lentils
(yep, spilled them)

I used purple potatoes.
purple potatoes....does that make them healthier?

2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add potatoes; cook uncovered until potatoes and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Clearly, purple potatoes are cool.
purple and green....

3. Meanwhile, grate peel from limes; squeeze the juice from the limes.
lime zest

4. Chop up the peppers. Either wear gloves or try not to touch the cut parts of the peppers. I keep the pieces on the large side so people who don't like them can pick them out.
hot peppers!

4. Add peel, lime juice, spinach, cumin, cinnamon, vinegar and hot peppers to stew.
in goes the zest!

5. Cover and simmer stew until spinach wilts and is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Mix in mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before serving.)
Spoon stew into large soup bowls. Sprinkle feta cheese over, if desired.


As I calculate it, nutritional info for this recipe is (give or take) as follows (if it makes 5 servings, which it does) - 512 calories, 7.5 g fat, 3.3 mg cholesterol, 113 mg sodium, 1518 mg potassium, 89 g carbs, 15 g fibre, 26 g protein, 20% Vitamin A, 120% Vitamin C, 16 % Calcium, 61% Iron, 20% Vitamin E, 55% Thiamin, 24% Riboflavin, 27% Niacin, 58% Folate, 86% Vitamin B-6, 3% Vitamin B-12, 56% Phosphorus, 45% Magnesium and 33% Zinc (all the percentages being of the recommended daily intake for a mid-twenties, medium-sized woman). So that's why you should make it. That's a lot of goodness in one small, bland bowl.

Any suggestions for livening it up? I'm thinking curry powder. And more hot peppers. Thoughts?

Thanks for reading!


Jennifer said...

I'm a new reader and I really enjoy your posts, so thanks for sharing your adventures with us! I haven't tried any of your recipes yet, but I have certainly seen some I'm eager to try.

S. said...

looks really good. always enjoy your photos.

Elle said...

Stopping over from Daring Bakers site. Glad to meet 'ya. This look healthy and tasty. Lovely photos.

ms wendy said...

Made your cinnamon rolls the other day (more on that in that post) and while coming over to give accolades, I noticed this. I use a lot of lentils in my cooking, and I do think one of the issues is the usage of red lentils. I only use them in dals and one soup recipe, otherwise I always use puy lentils. They retain their texture more and don't suck up all the flavour. And, they don't really take that long - I throw them in a pot covered with water and boil away while I am doing other stuff and they are usually done in 15 minutes.

Besides that, I think curry powder would really help. I am pathetic as I add curry powder to almost all savoury dishes (as well as smoked paprika). Gives all my cooking a very distinct taste...

Mrs. Spaghetti Bender said...

love the new profile pic...

kinda something sexy goin' on.

beautiful pic!

BubblyBunny said...

Oooh...I think we are going to try out your wrap and lentil soup recipes. My hubby loves lentil soup. I never knew there is such thing as purple potatoes! Where did you get that, I do not think I have seen that in the grocery stores.

Karen Baking Soda said...

Hi, another stopping over from Daring Bakers! I love the red lentils..but just to look at,not to eat. I always manage to cook them into oblivion..but I suppose that's not me? Phiew!

leslie @ definitely not martha said...

jennifer - thanks for reading! let me know if you try any of them

stefanie - thanks! :)

elle - lovely to meet you. thanks for stopping by!

ms wendy - I have to agree that curry powder makes almost anything better. I like red lentils in curry and have been unable to find puy lentils in Ottawa. I have both green and brown lentils, so I may sub them someday. Thanks for the suggestions!

mrs spaghetti bender - thanks! I thought it might be time to get a more grown-up pic. I was having some fun doing self-portraits. :)

bubblybunny - I just happened to find them in the store. I've been seeing them more and more lately - I LOVE the purple.

baking soda - I think that red lentils are just supposed to cook down (which is FAB in dahl). Perhaps they just weren't the right match for this dish, eh? Thanks for stopping in!

Anonymous said...

I've had similar problems with the 2 or 3 lentil soup recipes I have tried. And I still have about 2.5 kg of the little buggers left in the cupboard! Do update if you find a decent recipe, please =)

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