Lentil Soup is a great source of nutrition with a long history (April 7, 2011)

Kathleen Toohey from St. Mark Parish, Sea Girt, has offered two meatless recipes this week, one for Lentil Soup and the other for Potato Soup. Both of these dishes, humble food of the poor, should be reminders of our need to die to self in Lent so that we may stand humbly before the Lord.

Lentils are a food with an ancient history. A great source of nutrition, with protein and minerals, they were grown in antiquity from Europe to the Middle East to Central Asia. Referred to in the Bible, Esau traded his birthright to his twin Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew when he came home hungry (Gn 25: 29-34).

The Greeks and Romans ate large quantities of lentils and the Egyptians were known as the main exporters of the legume in ancient times. Throughout history lentils have been known as the food of the poor or “the poor man’s meat.”

It is said that when the obelisk now in St. Peter’s Square was brought to Rome from the banks of the Nile in Egypt, the monumental stone was shipped with thousands of bushels of lentils used as packing material. Call it Rome’s imperial recycling program: Use packing material for food.

This recipe for Lentil Soup is hearty, satisfying and nutritious. Ms. Toohey suggests fixing it in the morning so that it will be ready when everyone comes home in the evening.

Lentil Soup
– 2 cups dry lentils, washed and sorted
– 1 onion, diced
– 5 cups water
– 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
– 1/2 cup red wine
– 1 bay leaf
– 2 ribs celery, sliced
– 1/8 tsp garlic powder
– 2 carrots, sliced
– salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a crockpot (slow cooker) and leave on low for at least 6 hours.

If you are not using a crockpot, prepare on the stovetop as follows: Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours until lentils are tender. Serves 6-8. The soup is nice with crackers or hearty bread and a fruit salad:

Fruit Salad
– 1 apple, cored and sliced
– 1 banana, sliced
– 15 oz can sliced peaches
– 1 orange, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
– 1/2 cup raisins
– 1 cup vanilla yogurt
– Mix ingredients, chill and serve.

Potato Soup
– 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
– 4 cups water
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 1 cup dry, powdered milk
– 2 carrots, sliced
– 1 tsp dill seed
– 2 ribs celery, sliced
– salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes, onion, carrots and celery in water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender then mash about half of the potatoes. Wisk in the milk powder and spices. Simmer 15 minutes. Serve it with salad and crusty bread.

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