Mix-and-match-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink vegetable and lentil stew

Mixed Vegetable and Lentil Stew

About halfway through October, I realized that I had WAY overcommitted myself for the last few months of 2013. It was bad. By the time Christmas break arrived, I was treading in deep, deep water and had run myself ragged. For that reason, I decided to do what any normal person with some control over their schedule would do.

I decided to take the entire month of January off for some rest and rejuvenation.

It. was. glorious.

Every week, in an attempt to nourish my body and fill it with healing food, I made a pot of this mixed vegetable and lentil stew. No two batches were exactly the same, but they were all wonderful and made me feel great. Homemade bone broth, lycopene rich crushed tomatoes, and the seasonings remained constant. Then, I rotated the veggies based on what looked fresh and/or was on sale. Sometimes I added chicken, sometimes I added quinoa, and sometimes I just stuck with the lentils. My husband enjoyed taking it to work, the girls enjoyed it as a simple lunch, and I ended the month of January in a much better state of mind and health than when it began.

Cleansed, renewed, and ready to take on whatever journeys the rest of 2014 has in store.

Mixed Vegetable and Lentil Stew

Feel free to tailor this soup to your personal preference. The veggies I chose for this version work synergistically to provide your body with energy, warmth within the body, and detoxification. Perfect when you are trying to find rejuvenation. However, if you can’t stand a certain veggie, you can certainly leave it out, and add more of something else.

Ingredients (Makes about 4 quarts):

2     tbsp grass-fed butter

1     large red onion
3     large carrots (or 1 large sweet potato)
6     stalks celery
1     fennel bulb (or an additional 6 stalks celery)
8    – 10 oz package baby bella or cremini mushrooms
1     head broccoli (or 1 bunch kale)
8     cloves garlic

1    quart chicken broth, preferably homemade
3     – 4 cups filtered water
24   oz crushed tomatoes

1- 1/2  cups dried red lentils (or 1 cup lentils and 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa)

Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Seasonings:

2    tsp sea salt
1    tsp chili powder
1    tsp smoked paprika
1    tsp mustard powder
1    tsp ground cumin
1    tsp dried thyme
1    tsp dried tarragon
1   tsp dried basil
1   tsp ground black pepper

Instructions (45 minutes active, 90 minutes total):

Please note that you do not have to prep your veggies ahead of time. The beauty of this soup is that it uses what I’ve affectionately named the “chop and drop method”. When added in the order indicated, all of the veggies will have just enough time to soften before the stew starts it’s simmer. Yay!

Combine your seasonings: In a small bowl or ramekin, combine all ingredients listed under “seasonings”. Set aside.

Get choppin’ and droppin’: Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat for about 5 minutes. While pot heats, dice one red onion. When pot is hot and onion is chopped, add the butter. When melted, add the onion. Stir to combine, then trim, peel and dice your carrots. Add carrots and stir veggies. (Do you see where we are going?) Next, chop and drop your celery, then fennel, mushrooms, broccoli and garlic.

When all veggies have been chopped and dropped, add combined seasonings. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, being mindful not to let the spices burn.

Add your liquid and lentils, then walk away: Add 1 quart chicken broth, 3 cups filtered water, 1 jar of crushed tomatoes, and 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (or 1 cup and 1/2 cup quinoa). Increase heat to bring soup just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let soup simmer for 45 – 60 minutes. If stew is too thick, add additional water. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!!!

Notes: This soup is naturally nut-free and gluten-free. It can easily go dairy-free when olive oil is used in place of the butter. Vegetarians can proceed as written when vegetable broth is used in place of the chicken broth. This stew can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and frozen for three months. Because many of the nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, it is important that you add the drizzle of olive oil to ensure your body absorbs all of the healing goodness. Feel free to garnish with a bit of parmigiano-reggiano or some fresh avocado as well.

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