Lentil Soup with Lemon

Although I’ve tried a lot of lentil soups, there’s only one that I’m a big fan of. I come back to this recipe time and time again. It’s healthy and delicious, and incredibly simple to make. It also happens to be vegetarian/vegan. It has simple spices (cumin and mustard seeds) and lots and lots of lemon juice. Don’t skimp on it.

I originally got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks years ago. It was tasty, but took a few more steps than I liked. Here’s my simplified version. It’s originally a red lentil soup, but I always use plain brown lentils I find in the grocery store. (That said, the soup in these pictures used red lentils since they were the same price at the store. I also forgot cilantro.) I usually use bottled lemon juice rather than juicing lemons. Often I use frozen spinach (I usually microwave it first) in the soup rather than fresh greens. Since it’s a pureed soup, we always serve it over brown rice. We usually get 4+ generous bowls of soup from this recipe.

To demonstrate how much I like this soup, and how forgiving it is: Once I didn’t have enough lentils, and used chickpeas instead. It reminded me a little of hummus, and it was still tasty. Sometimes I’m out of turmeric, and it turns out okay (although it is better with it). Sometimes I use kale in the soup instead of spinach, and sometimes I forget about leafy greens entirely; the soup still turns out delicious. Sometimes I forget it takes cilantro. Even when I have to make substitutions, I love this soup.

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Carrot Soup with Sesame and Chickpeas

One of the soups that I’ve made a few times recently(ish) is the Carrot Soup with Tahini and Chickpeas from Smitten Kitchen. It’s a healthy and delicious soup, and is pretty quick and easy to make.


The soup itself is lightly spiced. Do not skip the sesame-lemon drizzle! It provides a definite punch of flavor, making the soup anything but boring.  The addition of chickpeas also makes this more interesting than your usual blended veggie soup. In some ways, it’s like eating a soup version of hummus. As a meal, this soup is light but filling. It’s also vegetarian and vegan!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Cooking is much easier with a one-year old than it was with a baby. It got better when she was able to sit upright and play with toys or watch me from her high chair. Now that she can toddle into and out of the kitchen, I can get much more done!

Still, I prefer to cook things that require minimal effort and time, things that I don’t have to focus on. This usually means using my slow cooker. Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted the perfect recipe earlier this year – a chicken chili made entirely in the slow cooker. No soaking beans. No browning meat.

I love this recipe. I just throw all the ingredients in the crockpot and let it cook until dinner. I only have to cut up an onion and a jalapeno (if I use a whole pepper instead of chili or pepper flakes, which I usually don’t). I don’t cut up my chicken first; after 10 hours in the slow cooker, I easily break it up with a sturdy serving spoon. And this chili even turns out if I forget that I’m out of onions when I make it (oops).

This was a great chili and a perfect slow cooker meal. It was delicious and not too spicy (as long as I added the amount of jalapeno I wanted). As a chili, it’s hearty and healthy. This is way, way better any of my attempts to make a chili with ground turkey. This recipe is not as tomatoey as when I make a chili on the stove, but that’s not a big deal. Leftovers are great. And my one-year-old absolutely devours it, meal after meal.

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Miso-Carrot Soup

I don’t make single-vegetable soups very often. I’ve eaten enough boring ones to be indifferent. I like a little more texture in my soup than you usually get from a pureed or cream soup. I like my soup to be hearty; I don’t want a light appetizer soup at home. However, I can always come up with counterexamples of tasty or hearty ones.

I’ve made this Miso-Carrot Soup twice now, so it’s clearly one of the good ones. It’s simple and uncomplicated to make, and you feel healthy once you’re finished eating. Plus, this soup is hearty enough that you don’t feel like you still need dinner when you’re done eating it.


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Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

Now that fall is decidedly here (and winter too, it nearly seems), I can’t put off the urge to bake and make other autumn recipes. I regrettably haven’t had much time to cook within the past couple of months. I decided to take a class on nutrition, and while I’m enjoying learning (and will hopefully be able to apply it to my cooking, in some form or fashion), it sure takes up more time than I thought it would. Add to that a busy few months at work, a regular running schedule, friends’ weddings, concerts, and other fun things, and you can see why I haven’t cooked or written! I hope that I’ll have more time soon, since it’s getting too dark and cold to run in the evenings, and my race is this Sunday.

I made the time this evening to try a recipe I just found yesterday, and I’m glad I did. Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew sounded wholesome and warm, a nice contrast to the cool rainy weather we had today. This recipe is delicious, satisfying, and vegan. It came together easily, and was hands-off while it simmered, meaning I could do other things while it cooked. It was tasty enough that I put off my class reading for a change – I couldn’t wait to share this!

Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew
Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

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Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale

Within the past few weeks, I made Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale. The soup sounded hearty and warming during our recent cold snap when winter told St. Louis that spring was farther away than we hoped.

I only made a few changes to the recipe. I used a pound of bulk sweet Italian sausage that grocery stores in St. Louis (or maybe it’s just Schnucks) sell. I cut out the oil added to the soup – after all, sausage renders plenty of fat – and hardly used the garlic oil I made. (It’s going to be added to focaccia whenever I make it again.) I added all of the kale that I bought to go in the soup, rather than restricting it to 3-4 cups.

The soup was pretty easy to make. Brown sausage; add diced vegetables until softened; add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaves, water, salt, and pepper; cover and simmer until lentils are done; and add kale to wilt. It takes a little time for the lentils to cook (about 40 minutes), but it’s hands-off time – I took the time to sit down and read for a little while.

I forgot to take a picture of the soup when we ate it – every single time. But I can tell you that it looked like Deb’s pictures of the soup did – rich and red and earthy.

I’m not always a huge fan of sausage, but I was pleasantly surprised by this soup. It was warming and hearty. Alex and I thought that about a pound of sausage was the right amount for this soup – it flavored the soup well. The flavor was strong enough that the kale wasn’t too bitter for it. This is one of the few lentil soups that I’ve actually enjoyed, and I think that’s due to the flavor the sausage gave the broth.

All in all, this was a great soup to make. The ingredients are inexpensive; the recipe, easy to make; and the soup itself, satisfying. It’s definitely a recipe worth trying.

Poblano-Jalapeño Chili

Cooking with peppers is fun. It feels so… exotic and dangerous. I didn’t grow up with particularly spicy food, so I didn’t buy chili peppers to cook with until the past several years. I like spicy food, but just a little bit of spice will keep my face warm for a while.

I decided to make Poblano-Jalapeño Chili last month. I know that poblanos are decidedly not hot and jalapeños can range in how hot they are, so this is nothing too adventurous. That said, I like my usual hamburger+tomatoes+beans+chili powder version of chili, so I usually don’t try chili recipes. I think it was the inclusion of the beer and the peppers that drew me to this recipe and convinced me to give it a try.

Poblano-Jalapeño Chili
Poblano-Jalapeño Chili

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Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

Winter has finally arrived in St. Louis. Yesterday we reached a balmy high of 56F, and Alex and I took our dog for a leisurely walk. Today, we’ve had a few inches of snow, and when I walked my dog, it was 17F and felt like -1.

I decided this winter weather made tonight perfect for soup. As always, I just happened to have some potatoes and bacon around, and thought that a hearty and thick bacon and potato soup was exactly what the change in weather demanded.

I’m a somewhat picky eater, and discounted all recipes involving any kind of cream cheese, shredded cheese, or sour cream in the broth. That essentially brought me to this Baked Potato and Bacon Soup recipe, which I’ve adapted below. I liked the simplicity of the ingredient list – potatoes, bacon, onion, garlic, milk, and chicken broth, with a few seasonings.

Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

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Black Bean Soup

My friend Theresa had a favorite recipe for black bean soup to share with me before I left my job last October. In an effort to eat healthily (and inexpensively – beans are cheap!), I decided I would go ahead and try it!

Black Bean Soup

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Lentil Soup with Lemon

I want to like lentils. They’re inexpensive, healthy, and quicker to cook than any beans around because you don’t have to soak them. I don’t use them often in part because I don’t know what to put them in. I’ve made a few lentil soups in the past, and I’ve generally found them to be boring. I’ve only ever made one that I really enjoyed, and that one had a liberal amount of curry powder in it.

But this week, I found another lentil soup I like! I was hopeful about the recipe for Red Lentil Soup with Lemon from the moment I saw it. It sounded healthy and simple to make.

I didn’t realize it when I decided to make the recipe, but it didn’t take broth – just water. I decided to try it with regular brown lentils you find in the grocery store. I simmered them with water, the tablespoon of butter (which I would probably omit next time), tumeric, and about 1.5 teaspoons sea salt. They were done after 20 minutes. Once they were done, I used a hand blender to puree the soup. While the lentils cooked, I sauteed onion with cumin and mustard seeds in olive oil for about 15 minutes. I added the cilantro and stirred the onion mixture into the soup. I added 6 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to the soup, but I even might add a little more next time.

I sauteed some kale in olive oil to serve with the soup. We had brown rice with it. We got 6 servings from this recipe.

Lentil Soup with Lemon

This was a good soup. It was filling, flavorful, and bright from the lemon. Although the soup has Indian flavors, there’s nothing spicy about this soup. It’s vegetarian (and it doesn’t even need broth!), but you don’t miss meat. I really enjoyed this, and so did Molly and Jen, who we had over for dinner. I’d definitely make this soup again.