Jan 16, 2018

A Tasty Soup That's Good For You!

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Chickpea & Lentil Soup
I have been told that Hawaiians don't eat lentils which explains why I had such a hard time finding them in Molokai's grocery stores (thank you Kualapu'u Market)!. 

 Lentils are considered to be the world's healthiest food. They are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate. A very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Additionally they are a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. 

Did you know? When combined with a whole grain like brown rice, lentils provide the same quality protein as meat! Lentils are a good source of protein. A 1/2 cup serving of dry lentils provides about 26 grams of protein. With such high protein content, you are sure to be fuelled up all day long.

This recipe is a good example of how you can easily make a delicious meal for you and your family that will be healthy. It's a hearty Moroccan soup called Harira, served during the holy month of Ramadan. There are many variations to this recipe, but this one is one of my favorites because the mix of spices makes an incredible flavor that works really well with the ingredients.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
4-5 grinds of black pepper
1– 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with the juice
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1– 14.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dried lentils (red lentils are the best if you can find them)
1/4 cup long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
A couple handfuls of roughly chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1 small container of Greek Yogurt for serving (optional)

Procedure:
Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper as early as possible.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in 2 batches and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened. Add all the spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, chickpeas and salt. Cook until fragrant.

Return the chicken to the pot with any accumulated juices. Add the stock, lentils, brown rice and paprika, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 50 minutes.

Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley leaves. Place a small handful of roughly chopped spinach leaves in each bowl. Ladle soup on top of the fresh spinach and serve with a small spoonful of yogurt if you wish. Warm pita bread is perfect with this soup.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to deepen. Note though that the lentils and rice will absorb more of the liquid so you will have to add some broth to thin it out. Alternatively, if you plan to make this dish ahead, you follow the directions to simmer the soup for an hour and then the next day you can add the rice and simmer it for the remaining 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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