Lentil colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black.
With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils, like other legumes, have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food, after soybeans and hemp.
Lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%). Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods.
Lentil soup is recognized as a highly nutritious, particularly good source of protein, dietary fiber, iron and potassium. It is also very convenient as it is dry so you can store it for long periods of time in your pantry, and inexpensive too. My favorite is red lentil soup, and here is how I make it:
Ingredients for 2 portions:
1/2 cup of washed and drained red lentils (it is preferably to soak them in water over night, but a good wash before would also do)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups hot boiled water
1 teaspoon dried mint
croutons (cut half inch cubes or slices of bread, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and place in a backing tray in the oven or broiler for 5-7 minutes)
2 tablespoons butter
Put a kettle of water to boil.
Place the olive oil into a medium Dutch oven (or any pot with a thick bottom) and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute. Add the lentils and let them cook for 2-3 minutes, keeping an eye on them , not to stick or burn, stirring from time to time. Meanwhile season with fresh ground peppercorns.
Add the boiling hot water, stir, cover and bring to a boil, then turning the heat on low, let simmer for 20 minutes. You can make the soup using meat broth instead of water, but it will be very flavorful only with water as well. This is a great vegetarian dish.
Using a blender puree to your preferred consistency.
In a butter warmer heat the butter.
Serve the soup hot, with a drizzle of hot melted butter on top, and garnish with croutons.