Red Lentil Soup

It's cold, dreary and wet outside. And despite spring being only a couple weeks away, there's plenty of winter left in the air - at least in the Chicago area. We've had a couple "teaser" days that have been warm and sunny, but let's be honest - we've got a long way to go until that happens on a regular basis. So in the meantime, it's still soup weather. 

I remember my mom making this Red Lentil Soup recipe when I was in high school - and I remember being pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. My teenage body could indulge in tubs of ice cream and bags of chips with seemingly no consequences, so healthy, vegetarian meals weren't usually high on my list of favorite foods. But this one was comforting, filling and at the time, the perfect complement to the giant bowl of ice cream I'd enjoy afterwards. It was a favorite then as it is now - although I try hold back (for the most part) on serving it with a side of ice cream. 

I've made a few tweaks to my mom's version over the years, but for the most part it remains the same. Hearty, satisfying and perfect for those "soup-weather" days. 

Red Lentil Soup
Yields 4 servings

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, sliced thinly
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 cup water
1 cup dried red lentils
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (5 ounce) bag fresh spinach

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes. 

Add the cumin and turmeric and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the can of tomatoes (with the liquid), broth, water, lentils, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach. Give it a few stirs until the spinach wilts. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Note: This soup freezes really well, so I usually double the recipe and freeze half of it.