Easy Soups for a Rough Re-Entry


I got a Fitbit for Christmas.
Well, technically Phoebe got a Fitbit for Christmas and technically it was Christmas 2016, a full year ago, and she loved it more than anything until she didn’t anymore. It sat in its bright blue box collecting dust since January 22, 2017, which was the “last sync” date that came up when I plugged it into my laptop on January 1, 2018. All year I’ve been meaning to co-opt it for myself and I figured the new year was as good a time as any to do so. Phoebe gave me some pointers, telling me that I should consider 10,000 my bare minimum. Once the thing was charged, I gave it a test run by walking around the first floor of my house a few times — 160 steps seemingly right away! This was going to be easy!

The truth is, I don’t really care about how many steps I get every day. (Though it is hard for my competitive self not to think about walking 50,000 steps in Sussex almost every second it’s on my wrist.) To me, it’s just going to aid and abet in my quest to do what I always do in the first week of the year, which is, to STAY MOVING. And by that, I don’t only mean stay active, though of course that’s always importantI mean stay productive and goal-driven and create things and don’t sit down until bedtime, and even at bedtime, have a book to read so my mind is still moving. (Who out there is going to invent a Fitbit for our brains?) Because if I stop for too long to think about the next few months of frigid cold, early sunsets, the Christmas trees lining the curb up and down our street, and things I will only say fall in the general category of “raising teenagers,” well…me and my mental Fitbit might just short-circuit.

This morning I went to the gym, read the paper, made myself an egg on toast, showered, picked up a large, strong cup of coffee, drove to my office, and reached out to a bunch of people I’ve been meaning to reach out to for a while. I worked on this month’s line-up. I wrote. After I press publish on this post, I plan to go home, walk the dog (1500 steps?), and have some Butternut Squash Soup. Did I mention that I prepped the squash and apples and onions after my egg on toast and before my shower? It was that easy. I’ll be back at the office by 3:00 to start and maybe finish my Great American Novel.

Speaking of soups, it’s helpful to have a stash of healthy ones in your repertoire this time of year, especially ones that come together fast and require no extra trips to the store. (Though…steps?) This red lentil one fits the bill.

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Greens
This one’s an especially great soup for the end of the week, when you don’t feel like a high-maintenance dinner and you’re trying to get rid of the almost-wilted greens and vegetables in the refrigerator. Our favorite leafy green here is Tuscan kale, but you can use spinach or chard, too. Also: if you look in the photo above, you’ll see that the instructions fit on a tiny post-it note. It’s only when I’m forced to write the “official” recipe below that it suddenly seems fussy. Here’s a New Year’s challenge: See if you can make the soup by just looking at the ingredient list and not the instructions.
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as sunflower 
or grapeseed, but olive oil is day in a pinch)
1⁄2 medium onion, finely minced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger (from about a 1⁄2-inch piece)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon Thai curry paste
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups (14 ounces) red lentils
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
1⁄3 cup light coconut milk
handful of shredded dark leafy greens
suggested toppings: plain yogurt, squeeze of fresh lime juice, chopped fresh cilantro, drizzle of Sriracha sauce, warmed naan if you think your kids will revolt without a carb

In a medium pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Using a wooden spoon, smush in the Thai curry paste and curry powder until blended. Add the lentils and stir until they are all glistening with oil.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender and start breaking apart. (You might have to add up to 1 1⁄4 cups water as the soup simmers; the lentils should always be slightly submerged.) Whisk the miso with a little water and add to the soup, then, using an immersion blender, whirl the soup until it’s smooth and blended. Turn off the heat and drizzle in the coconut milk and stir in the greens until they wilt. Serve with desired toppings.

Other healthy, easy, comforting soups for winter:

Butternut Squash Soup It’s all about the toppings here: chopped walnuts, sour cream, chives
Tortilla Soup Start with a rotisserie chicken to make your life even easier
Tomato White Bean Throw some cooked, chopped shrimp in there if you want to next-level it (recipe is also in Dinner: A Love Story)
Avgolemeno The creamiest lemon-chicken soup that uses no cream (recipe is also in Dinner: The Playbook)

Stay warm my friends!

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11 Comments

M

I know chili isn’t technically a soup, but we are having your DALS chili tonight, to ward off these freezing temperatures.

Reply
Jennifer

We too has DALS turkey chili tonight. So good and so easy. My 8 year old, Iris, had three bowlfuls!

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Mo

I like how this post is supposedly about soup, but it is a super inspirational kick in the butt for me! Keep moving! Thank you!!

Reply
sharon root

Jenny i just made your curried red lented soup is a good soup keep the recipes comeing.

Reply
Shawn Kaminski

The Lentil soup was awesome! I’ve been following the DALS site for years and love both the posts and the recipies. Thanks, Jenny!

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