30-Day Meals: Lentil Soup

lentil soup

In a post called Smallness of Scale over on Seedlings, I mentioned that I live with the "boundary" of a 30-day meal plan.

It's quite freeing to do this. I always know what we're eating on any given day. My shopping list is a no-brainer. We eat our favorites again and again, without repeating them too frequently. There's built-in variety, both taste-wise and health-wise. And now I can cook without recipes (after awhile, they become second nature).

Waste is minimized, as meals often use parts of the previous days' meals. For instance, if you double this Lentil Soup recipe today, you can thicken the leftovers tomorrow, add a dash of hot sauce and worcestershire sauce, and use it as a base for Shepherd's Pie. Just add a layer of mashed potatoes, top with a small bit of cheddar, and garnish with olive oil.

The complete meal plan is in the sidebar here on Green Inventions, but the recipes.... well, I need to post some. Others are in the books that are in the Raw and Veggie Book Lists (also in the sidebar).

Here's my first attempt to get the recipes out:

Sausage-Flavored (without the Sausage) Lentil Soup

1 good pour olive oil
3 garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced

Add & saute quickly:
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 TB Frontier organic "Bac'uns"

Add & cook 35 min:
2 cups dry brown (green) lentils
1 cup or so tomato puree
water to cover

Add & cook 15 min:
2 potatoes, cut in chunks
2 carrots, sliced

good pour soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 TB rice vinegar
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
pour of olive oil

Cooking times may vary, due to lentil size and age.
Serve with crusty bread. Simple salad. Crisp-fried thin onion slices/mushrooms (makes a great garnish).

About Lentils: These legumes were one of the first crops ever cultivated. At about 18 grams of protein per cup (compared to 15 in a 3 oz. beef patty), lentils hold their own in the health department. They also have an excellent balance of fat and carbohydrates. High in calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and potassium, they're a great choice for both kids and adults!

Simple Seasonal Salad

winter salad

I like to buy ingredients in season. They're usually less expensive. After all, who needs to pay $3.50 for a cucumber? (That's the going rate at my local organic produce store.) This salad has escarole, apples, dried cranberries, walnuts, and gorgonzola. Substitute as you like!

Simple Dressing


Delectable food begins with the finest ingredients a cook can find or afford. I like to use these simple ingredients, poured and sprinkled directly over the whole salad, to taste. Olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, oregano, garlic salt, fresh ground pepper.

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Blogger Llama Momma said...

This looks great! I love making homemade soup in the winter. it's an eat-least-once-a-week staple at our house! (And so good warmed up for lunch later in the week.)

I haven't seen the meat substitute you list here. (Either at Dominicks ever-expanding organic section or Trader Joes.) I may have to venture out to Whole Foods, which is a trek, but a treat!

Thanks for sharing.

12:52 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Yes, winter is a great soup time. Funny, I hadn't thought of that as a meat substitute. Maybe because I also just use smoke-flavored salt sometimes. Also, I think one can buy something called Liquid Smoke.

When I became veg, I realized that many of the flavors I wanted from certain meats were actually from their herbs and spices. Fennel is a sausage spice, as is cumin and hot pepper. Pot roast gets its great flavor from the carmelized onions and bay. And so on. I now use this realization to spice my foods accordingly!

1:25 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Ah, liquid smoke! Now you're talking my language. I think I've got some of that. I was just assuming it was a meat substitute, which is siily since it's LENTIL soup. ;-)

1:52 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Regional language perhaps? Around here I've never seen Liquid Smoke. I just know about it. Where do you get it?

2:00 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

It all looks & sounds positively delicious! I can see I'm going to need to go to the market ...

2:33 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

You can get liquid smoke at any old grocery store, with the other spices...

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, LL, for the beginning of something wonderful! Can't wait to get more recipes along the way.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Thanks again for sharing this recipe. I made it last night, and it was a hit. Though next time I think I'll use vegetable broth instead of water, to add more flavor. Plus, I think I'll use a stick blender to thicken the texture up. Overall, though, it was simple and tasty. Perfect after a long afternoon of sledding! :-)

12:12 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Kirsten... so, did you go to the market?

Charity... yes, and you are a big cook... t'will be fun to hear how you change them (like Llama is going to!)

Llama... that is so wonderful! I'm glad this blessed your family. And the veg broth is something I hadn't thought of! (I save veg peelings in the freezer and make my own from that. :)

2:14 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

LL -- hey, one more question on your monthly menu. Do you change this seasonally? I plan my menu out weekly based on what's available and on sale...and fun new recipes I find, of course! :-)

But, I've been thinking about changing to a bi-monthly or monthly system to save time. I cook so differently in the summer and winter. (Lots of soup and stew in the winter -- grilled meats and salads in the summer.) How does this work for you?

2:41 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Llama... yes, I believe this is probably slanted more towards fall/winter/early spring. Come late spring and summer, I do a lot more with salads and raw foods. The truth is that my own 30-Day Meal Plan is scribbled with alternatives (so there's probably a summer plan somewhere in all the scribbles).

Mostly, the plan is helpful to prevent a lot of "I don't know what we're going to eat tonight" events. But I'm flexible with it. If I see a great eggplant at the store, maybe we'll just have eggplant parm that week!

4:36 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

OK, I haven't commented on this post until now because I'm absolutely CLUELESS in the kitchen -- and, if I'm to admit it, don't have much desire to learn. But I'm interested in this idea of a 30-day meal plan. I think the hub and I could benefit from something like this. I guess now I have to do the hard work of finding the appropriate link, reading up on it, formulating a plan that works for us, developing a shopping list, and then determining how in the heck to get all of it made. Shoot. :)

6:09 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... the link is in the sidebar on the right under "Garden of Eatin'"... A Month of Meals.

To make your own meal plan, the easiest thing is to start one day at a time. If you make something that's a healthy hit, write it down. Do this for 30 days. Presto! A meal plan. Later, you can juggle and fix and tweak.

8:25 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

i need to come over here more often...i'm always seeking good, healthy recipes and i love lentils. is the 30 day plan something you designed or is it program online? i'm not good at planning ahead like that and would like to become more so....plus learning to simplify and reuse ingredients.

3:57 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

okay- i just read the other comments and got my question answered!

3:59 PM  
Blogger Haddock said...

The 30-day meal plan sound slike a great idea :)

5:06 AM  

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