|Delicious vegetarian lentil soup with Greek flavors and a sprinkling of Feta!|
How about an ultra-tasty lentil soup for A Month of Daily Phase One Recipes? I've been a lover of lentils for quite a few years now so there are many variations of Lentil Soup on my blog, but when I spotted a recipe for Greek Lentils with spinach and Feta in the American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook, I couldn't resist turning it into a soup. And since lentils are a limited food for Phase One, I added other ingredients like celery, tomatoes, and lots of stock so I could have a larger serving. This slow cooker recipe starts with just lentils, chopped celery and onion, garlic, vegetable or chicken stock, canned tomatoes, and spices, and if you chop the vegetables the night before it's easy to throw in the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook all day. When you get home, add chopped spinach to the soup with some lemon juice and cook a bit longer, then scoop into bowls, add Feta, and you have a tummy-warming soup for dinner. I've never used Feta as a soup topper before, but I loved how it added a vibrant burst of flavor.
Of course this delicious Phase One soup is my Meatless Monday recipe for this week. Finding good vegetarian recipes for Phase One can be a challenge, but Jake and I both gave this soup two thumbs up when we tested the recipe. If you're a vegetarian who's doing Phase One, check the archives page for Phase One Vegetarian Recipes, where dishes that are vegan are marked with a (v). (This recipe could easily be vegan by using vegetable stock and skipping the feta.)
Start with 2 cups regular brown lentils. (Lentils that are fresher will cook more quickly, so take that into account when you're timing the soup.)
You'll also need 1 medium onion, chopped small, and 1 cup of celery, also chopped fairly small. (Do this the night before if you want to get this in the slow cooker early in the morning!)
Put the lentils, onions, celery, vegetable or chicken stock, Greek Seasoning, dried thyme, dried oregano, minced garlic, black pepper, and canned tomatoes with juice into the slow cooker and cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 8-9 hours, until the lentils are as soft as you prefer. (Slightly longer cooking time won't matter much, either on high or low.)
Here's how the soup looked after we cooked it nearly 4 hours on high. The lentils were soft but still kept their shape.
Add the chopped spinach to the soup with the lemon juice, turn to high if cooking on low, and cook on high for 30 minutes more. (Add a little more stock at this point if the soup seems thicker than you'd like.)
When the spinach is nicely softened, serve soup hot, with a tablespoon or two of crumbled Feta on top of each bowl if desired.
(Makes about 8 servings; recipe inspired by Greek Lentils in the American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook.)
2 cups brown lentils (washed and picked over if needed)
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or more)
1 medium onion, diced small
1 cup chopped celery, chopped into fairly small pieces
1 T Greek Seasoning (I use The Spice House Greektown Billygoat Seasoning, but there are a few good brands.)
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Greek or Turkish oregano)
1 T minced garlic
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 bunch spinach leaves, stems cut off, chopped and washed
2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or a little less if you're not that into lemon)
crumbled Feta Cheese for serving (optional, but good)
I used this Crock-Pot 5-Quart Programmable Smart-Pot Slow Cooker for this recipe. (A slightly smaller model would also work.) If you're going to cook all day, this type of slow cooker is a good choice because you can set it to cook for 8 hours on low and then it switches to "warm" after 8 hours.
Chop onions and celery and measure 2 cups brown lentils. (Do this the night before and store in the fridge in a Ziploc bag if you want to get this into the slow cooker quickly in the morning.)
Put the lentils, onions, celery, vegetable or chicken stock, Greek Seasoning, dried thyme, dried oregano, minced garlic, black pepper, and canned tomatoes with juice into the slow cooker. Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 8-9 hours, or until the lentils are as softened as you'd like them. (Cooking time will partly depend on how fresh your lentils are; lentils that have been on the pantry or store shelf for a while will take a little longer to cook.)
When the lentils are softened as much as you'd like, chop the spinach and wash in salad spinner if needed. Add spinach and lemon juice to the soup, turn slow cooker to high if you were cooking on low, and cook about 30 minutes more. (A little longer won't hurt, but the longer you cook the spinach the darker green it will get. Add another cup or two of stock at this point if the soup seems thicker than you'd like.) Serve soup hot, with a tablespoon or two of crumbled Feta sprinkled on each serving if desired.
South Beach Suggestions:
Low-glycemic dried beans or lentils are approved for all phases of the South Beach Diet, but portion size is limited for Phase One. In a soup like this with stock, tomatoes, onions, celery, and spinach in addition to the lentils you can have a little more, but I would still eat a fairly small bowl of this with a moderate amount of Feta for Phase One, with something like a big green salad on the side.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Meatless Lentil Soups You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Syrian Vegetarian Red Lentil Soup ~ Herbivoracious
Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Lime and Cilantro ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Greek Lentil Soup ~ Healthy Greek Kitchen
Vegetarian Lentil Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Cumin ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper, Lentil, and Spinach Soup ~ Albion Cooks
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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