Mediterranean Lentil Soup

Makes 6 cups (1.5 L)

Lentils have been feeding populations in various parts of the world since antiquity. There is a good reason for this choice—these little gems contain 26 percent protein by weight. Thus, a hearty 2-cup (500 mL) portion provides about one-third to one-half of the recommended protein intake for the day. (For details about recommended protein intakes, see pages 45 and 47.) In addition, this tasty soup is rich in minerals. This lentil soup simmers quietly for 1 hour while you do other things. It has a deep, rich flavour thanks to the addition of the molasses, which also gives the soup a robust appearance.

1 tablespoon (15 mL) coconut or olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
5 cups (1.25 L) water
2 cups (500 mL) chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 teaspoons (10 mL) dried basil or 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano or 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon (15 mL) blackstrap molasses or brown sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
Pinch of black pepper
Put the oil in a pot over medium heat; add the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the water, tomatoes, lentils, basil, oregano, and bay leaves and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Add molasses, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Per cup (250 mL): calories: 164, protein: 10 g, fat: 3 g, carbohydrate: 26 g (6 g from sugar), dietary fibre: 5 g, calcium: 78 mg, iron: 4 mg, magnesium: 56 mg, phosphorus: 175 mg, potassium: 589 mg, sodium: 407 mg, zinc: 1.5 mg, thiamin: 0.2 mg, riboflavin: 0.1 mg, niacin: 3 mg, vitamin B6: 0.3 mg, folate: 158 mcg, pantothenic acid: 0.7 mg, vitamin B12: 0 mcg, vitamin A: 61 mcg, vitamin C: 12 mg, vitamin E: 1 mg, omega-6 fatty acids: 0.4 g, omega-3 fatty acids: 0.1 g

Percentage of calories from protein 24%, fat 15%, carbohydrate 61%