This recipe is straight from my mom- aka the greatest Italian chef of all time- without any modifications. Because well, sometimes…you cannot modify perfection. It has always been one of my favorite recipes of hers and it’s so simple. Now that I’m older and cooking for myself, I can totally see why she was so excited when I’d ask for Lentil Soup for dinner- it’s so easy!! Busy after work? Throw everything into a pot to boil and leave it. As Patrick would say, Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
From the Dietitian: Let’s just be frank- this soup is awesome for regularity. It’s got insoluble fiber – which helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders (IBS and Diverticulosis). Lets talk about the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber- because a lot of people don’t know or forget! If you’re eating a meal- may want to revisit this page at a later time because we are going to get straight into poop talk. Yep – that’s right. Easiest way to say it. So soluble fiber (found in beans, peas, oats, barley, fruits and avocados) is sticky and soft- it acts almost like a gel, in a sense, so that things can slide around the GI tract more easily. The beautiful thing about soluble fiber is that it binds to substances like cholesterol and sugar- preventing or slowing down absorption in the blood- which is super cool and amazing if you ask me. Soluble fiber increases good bacteria in the gut; furthermore, improving immunity, anti-inflammatory effects and even improved mood per studies that have been done. Soluble fiber also is great for weight management -as we all know- because it helps you feel fuller longer…win win! Now for insoluble fiber– think roughage. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, fruits and veggies (mostly in the skin, stalks, and seeds). Insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water; therefore, it cannot be broken down in the gut and cannot enter the bloodstream. Because of this, it adds bulk to the digestive system- preventing constipation. Which we all want/love.
From the Doctor: I work in internal medicine. In the future, the plan is to work in Pulmonary Critical Care, but for now it’s internal medicine; therefore, dealing with GI issues/disorders/diseases- is absolutely in my wheel house in the internal med world. You would be surprised how many issues stem from poor GI motility/function.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that over a nine-year period, consuming more dietary fiber lowered the risk of death from any cause. People who ate the most fiber (about 25 grams a day for women and 30 grams for men) were 22% less likely to die compared to those who consumed the least fiber (10 grams per day for women and 13 grams for men). The effect was even stronger when researchers looked at deaths from heart disease, infectious diseases, and respiratory diseases; people with high-fiber diets had as much as a 50% or greater reduction in risk.
Besides digestive health, fiber helps stabilize sugar. Like the wonderful dietitian mentioned a bit earlier, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Meaning, increasing fiber intake is wonderful for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
Fiber and cholesterol. Just to mention once more, lentils help reduce blood cholesterol because lentils are high in soluble fiber.Canadian researchers examined 26 studies conducted between both the US and Canada that included a total of more than 1,000 people. Their findings showed that including a daily serving of legumes – beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas- was linked to a reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL aka bad cholesterol) by 5%.
One of the last things I want to touch on, is fiber and heart health. Several studies have linked consuming high fiber foods (like lentils) with decreasing you risk of heart disease. Lentils are a great source of magnesium and folate- both awesome for heart health too. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease, and magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients in the body. There has been a major link between low magnesium levels + heart disease folks…so eat your lentils!
- 4 Carrots – chopped
- 4 Stalks of Celery – chopped
- 4 Cloves are Fresh Garlic – chopped
- 2 Cups of Lentils
- 1 Yellow Onion- chopped
- 2 qt Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Pinch of Thyme (optional)
- Pinch of Cumin (optional)
- Red Pepper (optional)
- Locatelli Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Of Note: Occasionally, I have modified Mama Romano’s Recipe and added 2 Cups of Spinach or Kale to the recipe.
- Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, lentils, cumin and olive oil to large pot -or dutch oven-, turn on medium heat. Saute so that the olive oil is coating all of the ingredients
- Empty Broth into pot (as mentioned above, add spinach/kale here if you would like to add greens)
- Add pinch of thyme and salt and pepper to taste
- Simmer for about 45 min. Every so often, stir soup and add water so that soup remains at the same level as when you started. Lentils should be tender. (I have had to keep soup on for up to an hour to wait for lentils to soften- by the end I had probably added 1 1/2 Cup water)!
We add red pepper and Parmesan cheese on top (Locatelli Romano Cheese- the absolute best and the only kind my family and I use).
Now go cozy up with a Hallmark Christmas Movie, Soup and Relax!
-The Neilan Family-