Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato, Kale & Herbs

The Kitchen Beet - Winter Red Lentil soup

For the sake of all parents (and all people with taste buds), you should have this soup recipe. I’m particularly smitten with it because my children will eat it without fuss, and I happen to really enjoy family meals that involve us all sitting around the table, eating. (Such a novel idea!) It comes together easily, is pretty inexpensive to make, and if you do yourself the favor of chopping the leeks, sweet potatoes and kale beforehand, you’ll be impressed with how quickly you get it on the table. Here in Michigan we’re trying to maximize our time outside and enjoy the latest snowfall. I’d be hard-pressed to find something I relish in more than a hearty, veggie-filled bowl of soup after a couple of hours on the cross country trails.

This recipe is adapted from an old Real Simple one. It was published when my boy was one. He’ll be 11 in a week. Its simple goodness is enough to last; I bet I’ll still be making this soup when someone calls me grandma.

On that sobering note, let’s get started!

red lentil soup with sweet potato, kale & herbs 

1 TBSP coconut oil
2 cups leeks, white and light green parts, sliced and cut into half moons (diced onion would work, too!)
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, drained
4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 – 2 cups water
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup red lentils
1 TBSP fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper, to taste
2 cups curly kale, shredded
2 TBSP pesto
freshly grated parmesan, to top

Slice each leek in half lengthwise, then slice into half moons. Soak in a bowl of water, moving the leeks around to remove any dirt. Rinse, drain and pat dry. If this sounds like more work than you’re up for, just dice up some yellow onions.

Melt your TBSP of coconut oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or soup pot. Add the leeks, stirring and cooking for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon or potato masher as you stir them around for another 5 minutes. Add all of the vegetable stock and water. I usually use 1 1/2 cups water, which makes for a pretty thick soup. If you’d like yours with a little more liquid, add more water. Stir and bring the pot to boil.

As soon as it boils, stir in the sweet potatoes, red lentils, thyme, sea salt and pepper. Lower the heat to simmering and stir frequently at the beginning. Red lentils will float to the bottom of the pot and burn quickly, so you’ll need to spend a good 5 minutes or so stirring regularly. After that, let simmer for another 15 – 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times. You want your sweet potatoes to be soft, but not falling apart. If they’re too firm, continue simmering.

If they’re ready, add your kale, which should be cut into the smallest pieces you’re capable of. Add your pesto and stir. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, until kale wilts and is bright green.

Serve immediately, topping with parmesan, if you eat cheese. Omit the cheese to keep it vegan. (No matter how much parmesan we grate at the beginning, we always need more…) Enjoy! Pass this recipe on to people you love, so they can make it for their people, too.

Also, if you’re into red lentil soups like I am, bookmark this one so you can make it immediately when asparagus shows up at the farmer’s market. Not too far away! For now, I’m heading back to the snow. Have a great week!

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