If you have been following my blog for the past month, you have probably noticed that I like to use healthy, unprocessed (whenever possible) low fat and low sodium ingredients. In addition, I always try and use everything perishable in the fridge before it spoils - I just hate tossing out perfectly good food - its a waste of money and an insult to people who are not as fortunate as we are. I am not saying I never throw things out - yes it happens, but as a rule I use what I can before it spoils and if it can't be eaten, I will put whatever is appropriate into the compost.
This creates a fun challenge for me, because I do shop in bulk to keep the freezer and pantry well stocked. Buying fresh items like produce, dairy and meats requires some meal planning and it can be easy to forget things, especially if you have a spare fridge in the garage or basement...how many times have you opened a container and peered into a miniature version of the Canary Islands...?
I will often plan a meal on the day, based on what needs to be used up in the fridge or pantry. As I have mentioned before, I try and make a large pot of soup at the beginning of the week, so Hubs has healthy lunches to take to work. This week I made a delicious soup with some ingredients I had on hand, like raw spinach, celery and carrots as well as some leftover boiled potatoes from Easter Dinner that needed to be used up. I added in a bag of red lentils and some chicken tenders I had in the freezer (I separate the tenders from the chicken breasts and freeze them on a cookie sheet, then store them in a freezer bag for future use).
The result was a hearty, creamy (no cream) soup that everyone in my house enjoyed.
Chicken And Red Lentil Soup
8 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 potatoes, diced (I used left-over boiled potatoes)
2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over (watch for small stones)
1 Tbsp dried marjoram, crumbled
2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
Small bunch parsley, about 8 sprigs, chopped
8 chicken tenders, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1.Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes; reduce heat to medium and add garlic; stir to blend with onion; cook until garlic is golden, but not brown (or it will turn bitter); add celery and carrots and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.
2. Add lentils; stir to combine; add chicken stock, marjoram, sea salt, pepper, potatoes and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, cook chicken tenders in olive oil over medium heat until just cooked through; add to soup; add chopped spinach and parsley and stir to combine. Serves 10.
* If you use raw potatoes, then add them at the same time as the celery and carrots.
**The red lentils cook down really quickly to create a nice smooth and creamy texture, without having to add cream.