I’m writing this post from the tropics, from Sumatra Indonesia. While I’m sitting beach front eating papayas and mangoes for breakfast the autumn chill is in full force at home. This is my third trip to Indonesia, and I am understandably a big fan of Indonesian food. Sumatrans like their food spicy, and tempeh and tofu are always on the menu, alongside fresh seafood and dark leafy greens. Despite my love affair with South-East Asian cuisine, I do find myself craving for the hearty lentils based soups of home. This soup was a regular before I left home, and will be one of the first things I make once I return. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to savour every last bit of Indonesian food while I can, but sometimes a Curry Lentil Soup with Kale is what your body needs.
“Lentils are not only a good sources of iron, protein and B-vitamins, they are also very cost efficient. Per gram of protein lentils cost only 1.6 cents per gram, compared to meat at 4.5 cents per gram”
Lentils and other members of the legume family are one of the best sources of iron on a plant-based diet. One cup of cooked lentils can have up to 6mg of iron; most adult women require up to 18mg of iron per day, while adult men require 8mg. The type of iron coming from plant sources (legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, grains) is called non-haem iron and is not as well absorbed by the body as iron coming from animal sources (haem iron). Vitamin C helps to absorb the iron from non-haem sources more efficiently, so adding some fresh lemon juice to a lentil soup (heat degrades Vitamin C) is a great way to ensure maximum iron absorption is happening.
If you have checked out some of my other recipes you probably know I’m a big fan of lentil soups. Some of my other favourites include Delicious Curried Squash and Lentil Soup, Mixed Lentil and Bean Winter Warming Soup and Vegetarian Greek Lentil Soup with Lemon and Feta. Red lentils tend to be my go-to for soups because they break apart nicely, creating a thicker soup consistency. They are great if you are attempting to introduce lentils into skeptical family members diets.
Easy Curry Lentil Soup with Kale
A simple weeknight favourite this easy lentil soup is a great source of plant-based protein and iron. This recipe freezes well and makes convenient lunches for those busy work weeks. Try it blended and no one will even know there are lentils in there.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 tbsp garam masala*
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 carrots diced
- 28 oz can of tomatoes in juice
- 4-5 cups vegetable stock** organic
- 1 1/2 cup red lentils dry
- 2 cups kale de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp chili flakes optional
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
- 1 lemon
- plain yogurt optional
- cilantro chopped
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add onions sauteing until translucent, usually around 3-5 minutes. Add carrot and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.
Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and cumin and saute until fragrant, usually around 30 seconds.
Next add the canned tomatoes, stock, and red lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until lentils are tender and have broken apart - around 10-15 minutes.
Add kale and taste the soup and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add chili if using. Cook for 1-2 minutes more or until kale has wilted. Remove from heat.
To serve squeeze lemon juice over individual servings of soup, and top with a dollop of plain yogurt and chopped cilantro.
*Garam masala can be found in the spice section of some grocery stores, or in Indian specialty stores and is a combination of spices which may include cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay, black pepper, star anise, dried chilies, coriander and cumin. If you cannot find it, curry powder can be substituted.
**Homemade stock is best, otherwise look for a good quality one with no added MSG.
Adapted from Closet Cooking - Red Lentil Soup with Chickpeas
Make it vegan: Omit plain yogurt.
Add more protein: Add a drained can of chickpeas along with the kale.
Boost the vegetables: Add 2 cups of chopped mushrooms 5 minutes before adding the kale
Amount per serving, served with lemon juice only
Total Fat: 4.5g
Saturated Fat: 0.8g
Vitamin C: 45mg