The Edgy Veggie

Lentil soup offers big nutrition from a little bean



Deep Basic Comfort Lentil Soup

Homemade soup needn’t be a struggle. This lentil soup is simplicity itself.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 carrots, finely chopped

3 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 cup dry lentils

1 bay leaf

4 cups vegetable broth or water

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the garlic, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes.

Pick through lentils and remove any pebbles or odd bits. Pour into the saucepan with the vegetables. Add bay leaf and broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until everything has become tender to the point of coalescing, about 1 hour.

If a more velvety soup appeals, feel free to purée using an immersion blender. Otherwise, simply season generously with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 102 calories (31 percent from fat), 3.7 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 2.5 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 4.6 g protein, 13.5 g carbohydrates, 4.2 g fiber, 618 mg sodium.

It’s official — the Centers for Disease reports this is the worst flu season in a decade. Over-the-counter this and that may help, but the best medicine is rest and soup.

A simmering pot of something homemade will nourish and soothe you, but when you’ve got a serious case of the miseries, opening a can may summon all the energy you can muster.

Your supermarket has an entire wall of soup that can be daunting when you just want to get home, eat some soup and go to bed. Save time and struggle: Go with lentil. The smallest and most digestible of the legumes, lentils pack a whole lot of health in a little bean by means of fiber, protein, iron and red blood-cell boosting folate.

Beware: Some prepared lentil soups contain ham or other unwelcome surprises. Progresso ($2.45, 19 ounces) offers a soup with good bean-to-broth ratio. It’s vegan, warming, comforting, savory … and sodium-saturated. A one-cup serving contains 160 calories, 2 fat grams and 810 milligrams of sodium. It’s also got 5 fiber grams and 9 protein grams, but serves up a third of your sodium RDA in a single bowl.

The new light-sodium line from Amy’s Kitchen includes an organic lentil and vegetable soup ($2, 14.5 ounces). Each serving contains 160 calories, 4 fat grams and 340 milligrams sodium (half the amount in Amy’s regular lentil vegetable soup), 8 fiber grams and 7 grams protein. Organic lentils, spinach, carrot, celery and onions get a boost from balsamic — but not enough. Frankly, this thin, mild soup could use some salt.

There is a third way. The doctor is in: Nutrition expert Dr. John McDougall offers Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods, a prepared line that includes boxed lentil soup ($2.99, 18 ounces). It’s vegan, thick with lentils and bright with tomato and a splash of wine. It’s got flavor to coax you back to good health and good spirits. One serving contains 150 calories, 0.5 fat gram, 480 milligrams sodium, and delivers flu season a nutritional TKO with 10 grams fiber and 9 grams protein.

Feel good. And give that little lentil a big hand.

Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.” She blogs at

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