lentil soupLast week my vegan friend, Patricia (who I am not friends with solely so that I can have a pass when making fun of vegans but for a variety of other reasons as well), has requested a non-meat-based recipe. Also last week, I was part of discussion about how to eat healthy food without cutting into your rent money at those fancy-pants health food grocery stores.

The answer to both of these queries is one of my favorite weekend meals: lentil soup with greens. Lentils and spinach are super wonderful foods — both recently named one of the top 5 healthiest foods in some health magazine I was reading at the gym recently. In lentils you’ve got fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. In spinach you’ve got folic acid, tons of vitamins, antioxidants, and calcium.

And you can make a huge pot of this stuff for under ten bucks. When I say huge I mean that you can eat it for dinner, take it to work for lunch for a couple of days, and freeze the other half of it. One of the other great things about the recipe is that it’s versatile – you can throw in whatever you think might work that you have around the house. Have a leftover potato or two? In they go. Green peppers? I can’t think why not.

You can also replace the spinach with any leafy green that’s on sale or in season – kale, collard greens, turnip greens, etc. If your really hard up for cash, you can get frozen spinach instead of fresh.

I should also mention, for those who think this sounds gross or bland, that it’s totally delicious and flavorful and I never get tired of eating it. If you’re a die-hard meat eater, you can add some chopped bacon or sausage for your dead animal fix.

Lentil Soup with Greens

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced (or a small can of diced tomatoes)
3 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic
3 teaspoons of thyme
3 teaspoons of salt (less if you add salted meats like sausage)
3 teaspoons of pepper
pinch of rosemary
splash of balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of spinach, chopped

Heat the oil and add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are a bit tender. Add the lentils, water, tomatoes, spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the spinach and balsamic vinegar – the spinach should just wilt and turn bright green.

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