Text by Erica Dunn. Photo by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque for SimpleBites.net.
Beans and legumes are an inexpensive food and can be used in a variety of dishes. The co-op has a wide variety of beans and legumes available in the bulk section, including lentils, peas, kidney beans and more! Just one cup of beans delivers 14 to 20 grams of fiber. That’s more fiber than the average American eats in an entire day. Adding a serving of beans to one meal most days of the week can go a long way towards helping you get the 25 to 38 grams of fiber your body needs to function at its best.
High in fiber, calcium, and iron, beans and legumes are also a great source of protein. After meat, poultry and fish, legumes provide more protein per serving than other types of food. Combined with high protein whole grains such as buckwheat and brown rice (which are also available in the bulk section), beans and legumes not only make a delicious meal, but often provide the full compliment of essential amino acids needed by humans.
Just remember to give yourself plenty of time to soak your dried beans. Most varieties should be soaked in plenty of water for 8 hours before cooking. Cover your beans with at least two inches of liquid. Surprisingly, they will absorb a lot of water as they sit, expanding as they do. Be sure to soak in a bowl or pot big enough to contain the beans as they swell.
Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup
This simple vegan lentil soup recipe comes together quickly with mostly pantry ingredients. Be sure to have your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking! Recipe yields four large bowls of soup, or six more modest servings.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup chopped fresh collard greens or kale, tough ribs removed
- Juice of ½ to 1 medium lemon, to taste
- Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, curry powder and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Pour in the drained diced tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often, in order to enhance their flavor.
- Pour in the lentils, broth and the water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
- Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot and add the chopped greens. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until the greens have softened to your liking.
- Remove the pot from heat and stir in the juice of half of a lemon. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice. Leftovers will keep well for about 4 days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for several months.