Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hearty Stew

Soup is one food that I love and don't make as frequently as I'd like. I love thick and creamy soups as well as flavorful broths and refreshingly cool Summer gazpachos and belly-warming Winter stews. In my opinion, some of the best soups are ones that are healthy enough to be a complete meal. My specialty is lentil soup, which actually is more of a "hearty stew". My lentil soup is thick, chunky, low-fat, and made with heart-healthy veggies, hence the name.

Not only is this Hearty Stew super easy to make, another great thing about it is that you can improvise with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Substitute split peas for lentils. Add whatever veggies you need to use up. Skip the garlic if you don't have it.

Here are the ingredients I used this time:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • celery
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • lentils
  • veggie broth/water

Usually I add ginger and don't use have the celery or veggie broth on hand. You can add potatoes or other veggies, too. See how flexible this recipe can be!

To make Hearty Stew, chop up the veggies you want to use, and sweat the aromatics, then add remaining veggies, liquid, & legumes and cook for 30 minutes or longer, depending on how mushy you like it. If you desire, you can stick it in the blender, but I like the chunks of vegetables. You'll see there is no added fat, so this is a great dish to satisfy any appetite while keeping it healthy.

And a tip for soup-lovers cooking for only one or two: Make a big batch anyway-- then freeze this soup in individual portions. It freezes well, and is a much healthier ready-meal than frozen dinners from the store! You will be happy that you can just reach in your freezer and heat up this soup when you're craving it and won't have to spend time chopping veggies first.

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