Soup is comfort food
Warming, healthy, and satisfying, soup is an easy go-to meal for the cooler evenings in autumn.
This lentil soup can be prepared on the stovetop, or if you’re away from home during the day and want dinner ready when you walk in the door, it makes for an easy crockpot dish too.
Lentils are a great low-calorie source of plant protein, providing both essential and non-essential amino acids that the body needs to be healthy, with methionine being the limiting amino acid (1). Getting sufficient protein each day helps us to feel full longer, and provides the building blocks for body tissue like muscle and bone as well as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies (2).
Health Benefits of this Dish
Lentils, members of the legume family, are seeds that come in a variety of types and colors like brown, green, red, and yellow lentils. Brown and green tend to hold their shape and be great for soups and stews, while red and yellow cook more quickly and help to thicken the soup while adding nutrients to the dish.
We’ve already touched on the protein benefit, but lentils are also a great source of B vitamins like folate (B9) for proper cell division, reducing homocysteine to lower our risk for cardiovascular disease, and protecting the brain from misfolded proteins and Alzheimer's disease (3).
As an excellent source of iron, lentil consumption can help with the transport of oxygen, as a part of hemoglobin in the red blood cell, to every cell in the body (4).
The fiber in lentils sustains healthy gut microbiota while it provides bulk to the stool supporting regular bowel habits and gut function (5).
Curry is a mix of various spices that usually include turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, black pepper, and perhaps fennel or ginger. The health benefits of curry will, of course, depend upon the spices that it contains.
Turmeric, one of the main spices in curry, contains a compound called curcumin (not to be confused with cumin 😉). Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, removing free radicals from the body and preventing reactive oxygen species (ROS) from being produced to protect us from viral infections while it increases our antioxidant enzymes and reduces symptoms of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and hay fever (6).
Curcumin has anticancer properties as it suppresses a pro-inflammatory factor (NF-kB) to impede proteins involved in inflammation and cancer growth (7). Studies show that curcumin can inhibit tumor growth in breast cancer and increase cell death in stomach cancer cells (8).
Bioactive compounds in ginger, like 6-Gingerol, prompt colon cancer cell death and inhibit colon cancer (8).
Cumin has antimicrobial effects against potential pathogens like E. coli, S. aureus, and S. faecalis as well as certain strains of Candida (9).
This post would be far too long if we continued with all of the beneficial properties found in the spices contained in curry, but feel free to read more on each of these spices as well as others by clicking on the references listed.
Note: Soaking and draining the lentils before cooking will help to remove substances, like lectins, that may prevent the absorption of nutrients like minerals.
Curry Lentil Soup Recipe:
2 cups green lentils, soaked and drained
1 cup red lentils, soaked and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ small onion, diced
2 stalks, green onions, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 kale leaves, deveined and chopped
4 mushrooms, diced
2 tsp. cumin, ground
3 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. oregano, dried
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. holy basil powder
2 tsp. turmeric, ground
4 cups broth
3 cups water
sea salt, and black pepper to taste
Add a little water to the bottom of a large soup pot with the garlic and onion, and cook over medium heat until browning. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, kale, mushrooms, and all spices and cook until softened, about 5 minutes (adding more water as needed). Add the broth and remaining water to the pot with the soaked and drained lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. This dish is great on its own, or serve with avocado and cheese.
Note: Concerned about the incomplete protein? Try adding some Parmesan cheese to provide the methionine (amino acid) that the lentils are lacking.