Come January in Wisconsin, we tend to get some peeks of spring, but mostly, it’s cold. And cold means cozy means soup. Right? This red lentil and veggie soup is special because it is actually really versatile. The lentils make it super protein-rich, but I would not argue with the addition of hot Italian sausage (cooked right after the leeks and garlic), but it can also be completely vegan if you use vegetable broth. Any combination of veggies would be great, but when it comes to tomato-based soups, the heartiness of kale is wonderful. As noted in the recipe, you can play with the amount of spices here depending on your tastes. Let us know if you decide to try out this recipe!
Red Lentil & Veggie Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced (how to clean a leek)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup red lentils
2 handfuls torn kale leaves (about 4 large stalks)
kosher salt & pepper
In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. When shimmering, add the sliced leek and saute until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Now add the bay leaf, cumin, chili powder, coriander and paprika.* Stir to coat the leeks, then add the diced tomatoes with the juices, broth and lentils. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to low and simmer 15-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender and have soaked up a lot of the broth. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired, as well as the kale leaves. Stir to combine and serve.
*A note on the spices: If you like foods a little more spicy, feel free to double the amounts of cumin, chili powder and paprika as well as adding a pinch of cayenne pepper. In the amounts shown, you will get the flavors of the spices, but not so much spiciness.