For the last few weeks I have been making soups to have on hand to eat throughout the week. It’s such a treat to enjoy a good homemade soup instead of heating up boxed or canned soups. (Don’t get me wrong…I eat my fair share of boxed soups from Trader Joe’s.)
Given my love for being warm and all things hot (tea, yoga, sunshine, summer days, space heaters), I eat soup for lunch almost every single day during the winter months. I have a few standby recipes (the best chicken noodle, carrot and butternut squash ginger soup, chicken tortilla soup and a balsamic tomato soup I haven’t posted yet to name a few) but I am always looking for new inspiration.
A bag of lentils in my pantry served as the motivation to find a new lentil soup recipe. I love lentils but I always forget about them. I won’t forget anymore because the soup I discovered is AMAZING.
This is an Armenian Lentil Soup. It’s a vegan soup that is full of tomatoes, eggplant, apricots, peppers, onions and lentils along with some really fantastic spices like cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cumin. I based my soup on a recipe found on Epicurious but made a few modifications, mainly in the spice department. I added more of everything than called for along with cumin and turmeric. The cumin addition was due to some of the reviews I read and the turmeric was because I was feeling pretty wiped out and sore from a tough CrossFit workout that day and turmeric is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It also worked well with the flavors in this soup.
The soup was ready in under an hour but tasted like it had been simmering much longer than that. Don’t be scared off by the dried apricots in this recipe…they totally make the soup. The whole appeal of this soup is the play on contrasting flavors. You’ve got spicy, sweet, sour, mellow…it’s all there and richly layered. My nose ran in the best way while eating this. It’s not over the top spicy but it gets you going. (And note you can adjust the spice to your taste with the cayenne pepper.) It really warmed me up and cleared me out!
Another bonus? Is crazy healthy. Vegan (even if you’re a meat eater…this soup is super hearty and satisfying). Lentils are easy to digest and a good protein source. Low in fat and calories. Powerhouse spices such as cinnamon and turmeric.
I entered the recipe into My Fitness Pal to calculate the nutrition stats and this comes out to under 300 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving. Not bad for such a hearty, filling and flavorful soup.
Here’s the recipe!
Armenian Lentil Soup with Eggplant and Apricots
(Recipe adapted from Epicurious)
1 cup dried green lentils (can also use black or red)
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (note it is not longer vegan if you use chicken broth!)
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bell pepper (red, green or yellow), diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon(ish) kosher salt, to taste
Chopped parsley, cilantro or mint to garnish
Rinse lentils in a colander and place them in a large soup pot. Add the broth and the apricots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
While the lentils are simmering, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat (you need a pretty big pan here). Add the onions and sauté 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add all remaining ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the vegetable mixture to the lentils and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Note that if the soup becomes too thick during the cooking process you can add more broth as needed.
Ladle into bowls and serve plain or with chopped parsley, cilantro or mint for garnish. You could also try adding a dollop of Greek yogurt to cool down the spice a bit.
Yield: 6 servings