spinach and lentil soup with cheese and basil

The hubs has been eating a spinach-lentil soup at work for lunch quite a bit, and coming home raving about it. I happen to be a born-again lover of the lentil, and was inspired by our mutual affinity to try and make it. This soup starts with a couple of slices of bacon (always a winner in my book!) and gave me the opportunity to use some of my home-grown, dried thyme and homemade chicken broth. I was in.

The final product is a tasty and creamy, yet almost meaty, filling soup. It's also super good for you. Lentils are a low-calorie powerhouse, high in fiber, protein, B vitamins and iron. In fact, lentils are credited for helping to reduce your risk of heart disease! Pair this soup with a crusty chunk of toasted cheese-topped bread and call it a night.

Spinach and Letil Soup with Cheese and Basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped bacon or pancetta (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add bacon or pancetta; cook 1 minute or until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add lentils, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf.
  2. Place 2 cups lentil mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters), and blend until smooth. Return pureed lentil mixture to pan.
  3. Add baby spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and black pepper; stir until spinach wilts. Serve immediately.

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