Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup (Meatless Monday)

Lentils, a member of the legume family, should be a staple in everyone’s cupboard–especially for you vegans and vegetarians. These little earthy pillows are an excellent source of plant-based protein and have a lot of the vitamins and minerals that meat-abstainers often miss in their diet. A one-cup serving of lentils has only 230 calories, 16g of dietary fiber, 18g of protein, and 37% of the recommended daily intake for iron. This high soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.

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Beyond the vast health benefits, lentils are cheap, easy to cook, and store forever. If you’re at a loss for what to do with them (aside from this recipe), check out the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for some great ideas .

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Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tbs vegan buttery spread (I like Earth Balance’s Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 4 long strips of the peel
  • 2 1/2 cartons of reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese if you opting for a non-vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill

How to Make It:

  1. Add buttery spread (or real butter if you aren’t vegan), olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt to a slow-cooker and cover on high for 45min.
  2. Add garlic, turmeric, pepper, cayenne, and toasted sesame seeds (crushing them between your fingers as you sprinkle them in) and cook for another 15min on high.
  3. Add lentils, pearled barley, broth, lemon juice and strips of peel (you’ll remove these at the end).
  4. Layer 3 cups of chopped kale on top but don’t mix it in. Cover and turn to Low for 3-5 more hours.
  5. Turn off your slow-cooker. Remove lemon peels and adjust for seasoning to taste. Stop here if you plan to freeze half and save for later.
  6. When you are ready to serve, add nutritional yeast (or parmesan) and fresh dill to taste.

Serve this with a slice of my Saffron Fennel Bread for a hearty weeknight supper or an easy-to-pack work lunch.

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