When your doctor says to increase your pregnancy protein intake your mind immediately goes to a body builder pumpin’ iron at the gym. The good news is you don’t need to start chugging protein shakes or grilling up a steak every night. The simplest and arguably most healthy way to increase your protein during pregnancy is to do it veggie style. Lentils have about 18g of protein per cup but also a host of vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, and potassium, making this legume the best pregnancy partner.
To beat the cold, culinary wizard Michele Di Pietro of It’s All About The Food simmered up the perfect pot of lentil goodness for you and your Stowaway- or anyone else who’s just a tad bit chilly this season.
Hearty Lentil Vegetable Soup
Serves 4-6 (approx. 2 quarts)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup carrots, small diced
½ cup celery, small diced
1 cup yellow onions, small diced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 cup canned diced tomatoes and juice
5 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
7 oz french or brown lentils, picked through for stones, rinsed
8 oz mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped (can include white, cremini, shiitake, Portobello, oyster, etc.)
8 oz fresh or frozen (defrosted) chopped spinach
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
-In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat, then add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and slowly sauté until the onions become translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic!
-Then, add the diced tomatoes and juice, broth, tomato paste, dried herbs, crushed red pepper and lentils.
-Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are almost tender. (You can add more liquid if a thinner soup is desired.)
-Add the mushrooms, spinach, salt and pepper. Simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes more or until the mushrooms are tender.
-Stir in the fresh thyme.
-Serve the soup, piping hot, with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Round out the meal with a simple green salad and some crispy garlic bread! Buon’ Appetito!
Note: This soup freezes very well! So, feel free to double the recipe and make an extra-large batch so that you can enjoy it on another day as well!
Michele Di Pietro, founder of It’s All About The Food LLC Culinary Consulting, services food & beverage and health & wellness industries creating unique recipes with a purpose. Her deep passion for everything culinary makes her creations and contributions have a lasting effect not only on your stomach, but on you as a whole.