Lentil soup is a hearty soup made with small legumes known as lentils, which are similar to beans. The soup also includes other spices and vegetables. This soup can easily be made vegetarian or vegan, and is a very healthy dish. Though there are many different recipes for making this soup, the basics are fairly constant across recipes.
Lentils are typically purchased in a bag, dried. Some experts recommend soaking lentils before cooking them, while others recommend simply cooking the dried beans. It is up to individual taste preferences and the types of lentils used; in general, lentils that are soaked first will be softer and have a slightly "mushy" consistency compared to those cooked without soaking. Be sure to always rinse the lentils before cooking with them.
Though canned lentils are available, they are not often recommended for recipes because they are significantly more expensive than dried lentils, and can have an unpleasant texture. Lentils come in many different varieties, including brown, black, tan, green, and red, among others. It is possible to only use one variety of lentils for lentil soup, or to use a combination. The lentils most commonly used for soup include brown, black, and green. It may be possible to find a "lentil soup mix" bag of dried lentils at the grocery store, which features a pre-made combination of lentils designed for soup recipes.
In addition to the lentils, lentil soup might contain a number of other ingredients. For any soup, it is necessary to have a base. It can have a base made of chicken or beef stock, though vegetable broth can also be used for a vegetarian alternative. Some people choose to add pieces of sausage to the soup as well. In addition, common vegetables added to lentil soup include tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or chard. Other common seasonings include olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and thyme.
For specific lentil soup recipes, searching online is the best method. Keep in mind that any recipe can be altered to taste, and this type of soup is particularly easy to experiment with. Making large batches and freezing some is a great way to have quick and easy dinners all year long, as this soup is filling without being too heavy. Lentils are very high in protein, iron, and fiber, and are a popular staple not just in vegetarian diets but in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes as well.