recipe: weeknight lentil and vegetable soup

When the weather gets bone-chillingly cold, it's difficult to convince myself to cook a fresh, bright, veggie-laden meal. I'd rather have macaroni and cheese knowing I'll feel terrible and bloated after. Or a million leftover Christmas cookies. Or, or, or... you get it. But it's a new year and a time for intention -- see what I did there?

That said, I also love making a huge pot of steamy soup to warm myself up, to have plenty of work lunches for the week, and to soothe my soul. Turn to my quick refrigerator-clearing lentil and vegetable soup. We'll take the simplest ingredients, things you likely already have in the pantry and fridge, and turn it into a bowl of something comforting. We'll pre-boil the lentils to speed up the cooking time. We'll toss all the vegetables wasting away in the crisper into a pot. We'll save a few bucks on those lunches at work with ease. We'll feel victorious and virtuous.

This is another endlessly adaptable recipe, so give it a try and then make it your own. Here's my version.

Weeknight Lentil & Vegetable Soup
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
2 cups black, brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz. can of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, deveined and chopped

Cover lentils with 2 inches of water in a saucepan. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, a few minutes. Then add carrots and garlic and continue sauteing for another 5 minutes. Add seasonings. Stir in tomatoes, lentils and 3 cups of water. Let the soup come up to a boil and reduce to a simmer for at least 30 minutes. Stir in kale and continue cooking for another minute. Remove from heat and check for seasoning.