Most of our mothers served us chicken noodle or chicken and rice soup when we weren’t feeling so hot as kids. Creamy, salty, soothing and fortifying, a hearty and yet light soup like this is guaranteed to make you feel better. And the good news is, you don’t have to pretend you’re too sick to go to school these days in order to find yourself gratefully slurping up a bowl.
I grew up in a family with a matriarchal structure, where those with two X chromosomes definitely outnumbered those who claimed a Y in the mix. So trust me, I’m quite familiar with every truism about how holiday foods and traditional Christmas treats go straight to the hips, grafting directly onto the thighs, etc. Even though we ate extremely healthfully most of the time, at Christmas there are definitely some treats that get made and gifted that aren’t particularly friendly to the health-conscious. So, to help even out every time you pop a coconut meltaway in your mouth, I’ve come up with a solution that’s filled with nutrients, simple to make, and not only that, but this recipe is extremely filling and deceptively rich without later coming after you with that heavy sort of, “oooof” feeling that one generally gets slammed with after eating genuinely rich foods.
In college in California, I went through a considerable phase where a simple, economical, relatively healthy lunch obsession for me was Trader Joe’s’ canned lentil vegetable soup. I only say “relatively healthy” because canned soups, including that one, are on the high-ish side in sodium content. I grew up eating my mom’s lentil soup, which she made with the bone of a leftover Easter ham, and although that was delicious in its own right, I actually kind of prefer a vegetarian lentil soup to one with a lot of hammy flavor. (Please don’t tell her this. Watching her painstakingly spend an entire afternoon devoted to chopping tiny squares of ham for the ordeal of making her lentil soup, I couldn’t bear to tell her that I like a canned soup better. It’s just too cruel.) I tried my hand at many different lentil soup recipes to try to replicate the Trader Joe’s soup in order to reduce the sodium level, but none satisfied in the same way. Until, eureka, I arrived at this recipe. This is a hearty, rich, and totally vegetarian soup that will satisfy even the lentil-haters in your life. Make it in a big batch and do as I do: freeze individual portions for a quick, nutritious lunch in just the time it takes to nuke a bowl’s worth!