Needless to say, I have not cooked anything with lentils before I moved to Europe and started dating a Spanish guy, who eventually became my husband. He could not stop raving about the “sopa de lentejas’ that was one of his family’s favorites and, sure enough, I did not miss an opportunity to ask his mother for the recipe :).
It turned out very easy to put together and the results were so delicious that the soup quickly became a stand by meal in our family. The kids grew up enjoying it from the first weeks of switching to solids and it is still one of their favorites. You can easily puree the soup for for the smallest ones and it offers just enough texture to handle for those who have transitioned to lumpy and finger foods.
With 13 grams of fiber per serving (half of Recommended Daily Amount for those who need around 2000 calories per day), 11grams of protein and heaps of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, lentil soup is a true nutrition champion. It is one of those magical foods that are not only incredibly good for you, but also truly addictive so make sure to cook enough for a lot of second helpings.
My kids greet the familiar aromas with the excited “Chechevichka!” (“Lentils” in Russian) when they come home from school to a pot of hearty and aromatic soup. Even my cautious mom enjoys it whenever she comes to visit from Russia, although I still have not managed to persuade her to include it in her cooking repertoire.
Kale in this soup is an American addition to the recipe, it is not common in Spain and even less so in Russia. If your kids do not like kale (yet!), make sure to chop it into bigger pieces before adding it to the pot. This way the kids can remove it from their bowls without making a fuss.
The soup also works for lunch if you pack in insulated cups. It also freezes beautifully so feel free to double or triple the recipe to keep some for those hectic week nights.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 carrots, finely diced (about 1½ cups)
- 1½ cups celery, finely diced
- 2 whole onions, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup green or French lentils, rinsed
- 4-6 cups water
- 6 cups chopped kale
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or any pot with a heavy bottom.
- Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauté until soft and aromatic.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and cook for about 50-60 minutes.
- Adjust the seasoning if needed.