Easy Red Lentil Soup

I’ve really been into lentils lately, especially red and black. I never really ate lentils before recently, and I definitely did not cook them. But they are so good and super easy to make. 
I’m anemic and I am always trying to figure out ways of how I can get more protein in my diet. Lentils are high in protein; third highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. Not only high in protein, but also a good source of fiber, folate, and vitamin B – all things I am trying to fit more into my diet.
There are thousands of lentil recipes out there, and sometimes I just like to keep it simple. I looked through my cookbooks and combined a few of the recipes I saw and came up with the following recipe, which turned out to be delicious and full of flavor! I love experimenting in the kitchen, playing around with ingredients, and trying new things, and soup is the perfect for this.
Ingredients:  (serves 4)
1 ¼ cup red lentils
1 onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 celery stocks, sliced
4 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock or water* (I suggest using a stock to give it more flavor)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used fresh lime because it was all I had)
½ teaspoon garlic
½ teaspoon ginger – I didn’t have this on hand but will certainty give it more flavor, I love cooking with ginger (hence why I am out)
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon coriander  
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
1 ½ teaspoon tumeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
* I used up leftover pho soup base instead of chicken stock, still came out great!
Optional add ins

 

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper – if you like it hot
1 teaspoon curry power
tomatoes – because let’s face it tomatoes are my favorite food and I will add them to any dish I can.
spinach add in at end
fresh parsley – add in at end
Directions:
                               1.     Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil.

                                       2.     Reduce heat and cook, covered, for 40 minutes.
                                       3.     Ladle into 4 soup bowls and add spinach or fresh parsley
                                       4.     Serve and enjoy!

I told you it was easy!
You can really use any kind of lentils – red, green, yellow, pink. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as some take longer to soften.
            Red – 30-35 minute
            Green – 45 minutes
            Brown 20-30 minutes
If you are using any of the other add-ins, just add them into the pot along with all the other ingredients.
The consistency of the soup changes depending on what you add and how long you cook it for. As it sits, more liquid is absorbed. So if you like it thick use less liquid and if you want more broth I would add another ½ – 1 cups of broth. 
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