Armenian Lentil Soup

Lentils are not peas or beans but close cousins of the two. All varieties of lentils are very high is phytonutrients, however, some are even better. The tan-colored lentils are an excellent choice, but others are still better. The black lentils are the most nutritious, but are difficult to find in the supermarket. The next variety of nutrition is French (or green) and then red.

They are the heroes of the nutrition world. Inexpensive and versatile, lentils are rich in protein and fiber but low in fat. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals. As a low glycemic index food, lentils are also an ideal source of slow-burning energy that may have additional benefits to human health.  Try the lentil loaf for another nutrient packed recipe.

According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, if you have diabetes, lentils are one food you should learn to love. Dietitians report that no matter how much of them you eat, they have only a small effect on the blood glucose levels. Lentils are great for everybody, not just people with diabetes. Rich in protein, high in fibre and packed with nutrients like B vitamins, folate and minerals, this little nutritional giant fills you up. They are also gluten free, easy to prepare (no soaking), quick cooking (15–20 minutes) and inexpensive (so great for feeding the family). All colours and types of dried lentils have a similar low GI value. Although opting for handy canned convenience increases the GI somewhat, lentils are still a very smart carb choice.

GI 26 (red, home cooked)

GI 30 (green, home cooked)

GI 52 (green, canned)

Armenian Lentil Soup

Prep time 30 min Total Time 1 hour Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1-2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 cup dried lentils, preferably black, green or red
  • 4-5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pungent red or yellow onion
  • 1 red, green, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, with their seeds, or 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 medium unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 TBSP dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp salt, or more or less to taste
  • 4 TBSP chopped Italian parsley or chopped fresh mint for garnish

Directions:

  1. Push the garlic through a garlic press and set aside.
  2. Rinse the lentils and put them in a large pot.
  3. Add 4 cups broth and the apricots, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low.
  4. Simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients, about 20 minutes.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add all remaining ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the vegetable mixture to the lentils and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Adjust the seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.
  7. Ladle the soup into large bowls, garnish with the chopped herbs and serve.

Variations:  Sprinkle the soup with a small amount of orange zest. Substitute chopped chives or cilantro for the parsley.