Make a delicious, filling soup that’s high in fiber and protein. It’s perfect for meal prep, and I always stock a portion or two in the freezer. Both the vegan and omni versions are delicious.
ACTIVE TIME: 15 min
TOTAL TIME: 4–9 hours
CALORIES: 168 calories per serving
COST: CAD $0.34 per serving
FRIDGE: refrigerate for up to 8 days
FREEZER: freeze for several months
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 400 g dried lentils
- 60 g spinach
- 2 carrots
- 4 celery stalks
- 2 bay leaves
- 0.5 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 L water
- 5 g chicken bouillon powder
- 6 g salt
- Chop onion, carrot, and celery into small pieces (think about how you like your soups—you want the chunks small enough to eat in one bite comfortably). Roughly chop spinach. Mince garlic.
- Turn instant pot to SAUTE mode on MORE. (If using the slow cooker method, heat a skillet on medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of water. Add onion and saute until most of the water is dried up.
- Add garlic and sautee until water is almost gone.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the Instant Pot. (If using slow cooker, add all ingredients including garlic and onion to the slow cooker.) Stir a few times.
- For slow cooker, leave on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
- For Instant Pot, set mode to PRESSURE COOK and leave on HIGH for 15 minutes, then natural release (or 18 minutes for quick release).
Nutrition and Cost Breakdown
This recipe is super forgiving and easy to customize! For example, if you want a thicker stew-like meal, just reduce the water by a quarter. You can substitute double the amount of fresh thyme for dried. The spinach can be swapped out for kale or swiss chard or left out altogether.
The first time I made this, I sauteed the onions and garlic in 1 tsp of sesame oil. But having done it with just water since then, I don’t think the taste is hugely affected. If you’re not counting calories, feel free to add some oil to make it more fragrant!
* Vegan: Use 2 L of vegetable stock instead of water and chicken bouillon.
I can’t believe it’s February already! Last month, I was settling into my co-op job and trying to get used to real “Adulthood.” Now things have fallen into a kind of routine, although I’m still figuring a lot of things out. Even though I had a lot of fun cooking last term, most importantly I learned that making food takes a lot of time. To be honest, by the end of four months, I was almost a little burned out. So my New Year’s resolution for this year is to meal prep more and spend less time in the kitchen.
When it comes to meal prep, my recipes follow three guiding principles:
- Keeps well in the fridge (and, ideally, the freezer too)
- Tasty (to curb my urges to eat out)
- Low effort
I’m very happy to report that this lentil soup is all three!
I’m not into fresh herbs at all… every college student who tries to cook at home knows the struggle of buying a handful of cilantro or parsley for a recipe, only to have to throw away the wilted remainder a week later. There’s nothing more stressful than knowing you have produce going bad in your fridge but not having a recipe to use it in. I don’t want my life to be run by herbs!! That’s why when I come up with recipes, I try to stick to dried spices and herbs. These babies don’t go bad for a long time, plus they don’t take up space in the fridge.
I also try to make my recipes versatile. This one is super flexible on the vegetables. You can add in whatever you have, like tomatoes, squash, kale, mushrooms, etc. It’s great for dumping leftovers in!
The first day I brought my soup to work, I didn’t even heat it up in the microwave and just ate it cold at my desk (didn’t have access to a microwave back then, long story), and it was still tasty. My conclusion, essentially, is that it is just that good.
In fact, I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner that day, and had four containers left to spare. I think you can easily prep this for a week and eat it for lunch everyday without getting tired of it, but if you need more variety in your life, it keeps really well in the freezer to enjoy later. I like to let it cool down to at least room temperature, then pour one or two servings into a ziploc bag and lay flat in the freezer until it freezes into a space-saving flat square. To defrost, you can either leave it in the fridge overnight or soak it in a basin of cool water if you’re in a hurry!