Anyone else feeling the impact of the dark days this year? Maybe I am just getting older, but it has been particularly hard for me to adjust to it getting pitch black by 4:30 pm.
In these gloomy days of winter, I judiciously rely on three very important things to get me through: my full spectrum lamp (it is actually really called the HappyLight®, seriously!) which I simply sit in front of for about 30 minutes, making sure I get outside to exercise in real sunlight (rain or shine), and a good pot of warming, nourishing soup.
Soup is really a dream come true for so many reasons. You can make a pot anytime and simply freeze it if you won’t be eating it that day. Soup can be so full of good for you ingredients, tons of vegetables. And, most important, if I ever put an isolated pile of Swiss chard on my kids’ plates I can bet you all the gold in the world that it probably wouldn’t get eaten. In soup, greens, and all the other vegetables blend in so well. Like the blind leading the blind.
I made this Hearty Lentil Soup with Spinach this morning and we will be eating it for dinner tonight. Isn’t that great, all I need to do is turn the knob on my stove and dinner is done. Feel free to mix up the greens in this soup too – Swiss chard, kale or even escarole would work perfectly. And be sure to enjoy a nice bowl of soup on your next dark night.
Hearty Lentil Soup with Spinach
Makes 8 servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 cups unsalted vegetable stock, or water
2 cups dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 large handfuls baby spinach
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
Coarse salt and black pepper
1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
2 Add the 8 cups of vegetable stock or water and lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes.
3. Add the spinach, the tomatoes with juice, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes more. Adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.
Important note: lentils do not take kindly to being cooked in salt. Although in most recipes I add the salt at the beginning, in this recipe I add it at the end.