Warming soup for a chilly day

Sometimes it’s just too cold to have a salad.  I’m a huge proponent of eating lots of greens and veggies but what I want on these chilly December days is warm comfort food. That doesn’t have to mean, however, over indulging in heavy meat-centric meals that weigh you down and leave you feeling heavy and sluggish.

It’s a cool, grey damp day here in Toronto so I decided it’s a perfect day to make soup for lunch.  It smells divine and I just enjoyed a heaping bowl!  This dish is a wonderful concoction of vegetables, grains and legumes that leaves you warm and satisfied. I’ve given you my favourite trio of grains and legumes but you can certainly play around with the recipe and substitute any combination you prefer.  Just have them add up to about a 1/2 cup raw. (Try bulgur, chick peas, kidney beans, etc).

I like to use lentils not only because I love them but also because they give me an added boost of iron, always a bonus for female runners.  They are an excellent source of soluble fibre, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and maintain stable blood sugar levels.  Lentils are also packed with B vitamins (most notably folate and niacin), which are important for proper nervous system and digestive function.  Heart healthy, satisfying and the fact that they supply long-lasting energy make lentils a great choice for a cold winter day’s lunch.

Another reason I love my veggies in a soup is because we can lose precious minerals when we throw out the water they’ve been cooked in.  Minerals are essential co-factors to the proper functioning of our body.  Energy production, a healthy immune system and growth and repair of our tissues are all dependent on our mineral status.  Minerals are retained in their cooking water, so soup becomes an ideal way to ensure we are getting a healthy dose.  The grains, lentils and spinach in this recipe all provide excellent amounts of magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc.

One final note: cooking spinach is also important with respect to the absorbability of its iron content.  Spinach has fairly high levels of oxalates.  These are compounds that can bind with iron and impair its absorption. However, cooking the spinach breaks down these oxalates, making the iron more bioavailable and therefore more readily absorbed.

Quick and easy to make, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Lentil Vegetable Soup

  • 1 tbsp organic butter
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups organic chicken broth (homemade if at all possible)
  • 3 tbsp each of green lentils, barley, brown rice
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cups red potatoes, diced (unpeeled)
  • 4 cups baby or chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Cook the onion about 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add stock, lentils, grains and vegetables to the pot.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until everything is soft and tender.
  3. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.
  4. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Soup’s on!  Enjoy!

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