Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and Catholics all over the world will abstain from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten season. Easter ends Lent but there are many good reasons to continue to eat meatless meals at least once a week.
Preparing meatless meals may even help in the battle against the growing rate of obesity and obesity-related illnesses. Fox News reported on Feb. 18 that there are at least five benefits if you eat less meat. The five benefits of eating less meat include saving money and time, living longer, fighting obesity, and of course, improved heath.
Use the Lenten season to explore new and diverse meatless meals on Fridays. Vegetarian lentil soup is an excellent way to stretch the family dollar and make a meatless meal your family will enjoy even after Lent ends.
You may need to add more water about halfway through cooking, so keep an eye on the pot. If the pot starts to boil, reduce heat from medium-low to low and uncover. You want the thickness of this soup to somewhere between a soup and a stew, that is what makes it hearty. If you want to make a non-meatless version of this soup, you can add 1 cup of diced ham about 10 minutes before it’s done.
Make your own vegetable broth from scraps and peelings to make this even more economical. To pump up the nutrition factor without adding too many calories or spending a lot of money, add 4 ounces of chopped frozen spinach that has been thawed, drained and squeeze out all the water using a clean cotton kitchen towel, cheese cloth or just paper towels. Add the spinach to the soup the last 20 minutes. Stir to incorporate. This will thicken the soup up a bit and you may find that you need to add more water and increase the heat to medium-high to get it hot and bubbly again.
This recipe will make about 10 to 12 one-cup servings, at the average cost of about 10 to 15 cents per cup. It makes a fantastic soup to serve on soup and sandwich night. Try this delicious meatless falafel recipe as lentil soup and falafel go very well together.
Meatless lentil soup recipe
Ingredients for meatless lentil soup:
- 8 cups water or vegetable broth
- ½ cup celery, diced
- ½ cup carrots, diced
- ½ cup onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any stones
- salt and pepper, to taste
How to make lentil soup:
- Add oil to hot stockpot (at least 4 quarts). Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened, but do not let get brown. Add carrots, celery and water (or vegetable broth).
- Bring to a boil; add lentils and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until lentils are soft and soup is thick.