Red Lentil Cabbage Soup–Healthy, Cheap, Vegetarian

by Min Merrell

Red Lentil Cabbage Soup is intentionally simple, made without cluttering seasonings or broth. Even better, a package of red lentils are perfect for bean lovers because they don’t require any soaking and cook more quickly than any other dried legume. They’re so small that they’ll always turn to mush, so you don’t have to fret about over cooking them.

Red lentils are a gorgeous coral red color when dry that do turn a slightly disappointing deep yellow during cooking. But, forget about the color because they taste great. The thick, creamy “bean broth” provides a nice backdrop to chunky vegetables like the carrots and cabbage used here.

That said about keeping it simple, a little seasoning would be great, like —

  • stirring in a spoonful of one of those Indian vegetable curry seasoning packets,
  • adding a teaspoon of turmeric to further brighten the soup,
  • toasting a tablespoon of cumin seeds with the oil while sauteing the onion,
  • adding a tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger to the onion mix, or add a little curry powder.

All these seasonings are optional, but don’t leave out the lemon juice. The soup needs a little acidic kick in the pants, just like black bean soup and borscht. Chicken broth instead of water works, too. Vegetable broth would probably be a waste of effort and money as aromatic onions, celery, and garlic do a fine job of flavoring the soup. And then the garnishes…not necessary, but fun.  So much for keeping it simple!

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