Moroccan Lentil Vegetable Soup

Ready in 15 minutes, this is fast food the natural way!  Lentils are eaten around the world, at least twice a day in “any self-respecting Indian household,” says Kavita Mehta, founder of Web-based Indian Foods Co.  Eaten everyday in Morocco, too, but especially during Ramadan, they not only taste great, but give us protein, cholesterol-lowering fiber and more nutrition for their size than almost any other food.  Do they contain iron and B vitamins?  Yes!  These cute little pulses come in all colors and are easy on the pocketbook too.  A handful feeds many.  This soup helps whittle down your waist too.

Makes enough to feed 6

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) 24-oz can or bottle strained tomatoes 
1 large onion, chopped 4 C water or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp ground cumin ¼ C lentils of any kind
1 Tbsp ground ginger 1 bunch chard, coarsely chopped 
1 tsp paprika 2 zucchini, about 4 cups, halved and sliced
¼ tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper 1 C cilantro leaves, slightly chopped, optional
6 cloves garlic, chopped 2 Tbsp lemon juice

In a soup kettle or pot, gently warm olive oil.  Add onion and stir to coat.  Add spices and garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.  Add strained tomatoes and water or vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil.  Rinse lentils in a colander in cold water and add to soup pot.  Stir and turn heat to low, cover pot, and allow soup to simmer while you prepare vegetables (five minutes, if that).

Add cut vegetables to soup and cover pot again.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Stir in salt, cilantro leaves, lemon juice and taste.  Serve right away.  Lap it up!

If you want this soup thicker, add another ¼ C lentils.  A nice combo is ¼ C brown lentils and ¼ C red lentils.  Or use blue lentils. If you want more veggies, that’s fine too.  Add chopped carrots, parsnips, or whatever you have in your frig. Mushrooms are wonderful. Soup too thick? Add more water or vegetable broth. Soup even better the second day.

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