We probably really should’ve called this, “All About Lentils and Lentil Soup,” but hindsight is 20/20. When discussing the best fall soup and winter soup to try next dinner or on a distinctly cool November or winter night, there are many things to discover. Soup is comfort food for many and for good reason, so let’s talk about it!
The best soup recipe for autumn (and winter!) would be one that is not only hearty and filling but also hopefully good for your heart and overall health, particularly in the change of season. Let’s discuss soups in greater detail to learn what the best fall soups and best winter soups are.
Soup straight from the can is safe to eat to some, while others might disagree. As we all know, mercury is found in the lining of canned foods. Furthermore, soup straight from the can is often loaded in sodium and other preservatives so that it keeps long on shelves. As you can surmise, it is always best to eat fresh when possible. That’s what makes soup mix in a jar so convenient. You have all of the soup ingredients and spices dry prepared and they simply only need to be cooked.
Even more, the types of ingredients found in a fresh mix of soup need to be considered. Are you getting plenty of vegetables in your soup mix and soup recipes? If not, you definitely should, and you can do so in ways that won’t offend your palette.
The benefits of vegetable soup are endless. Vegetables, whether found in soups or salads, provide vital nutrients that your body needs to thrive and maintain health. They are also full of antioxidants, which are very crucial during the fall and winter when viral infections can arise. (There’s no wonder vitamin purchases are at their highest during the winter months to early spring, from December to March.) Antioxidants prevent oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, thereby leading to chain reactions that may damage the cells of organisms. Oxidation may contribute to inflammation and cancer. In particular, veggie soups are a great option nutritionally as they combine a high nutrient density with a low energy density – this means that we get lots of key nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories.
Now, in terms of non-nutritional perks and benefits of vegetable soup, let’s discuss the taste. Soups get better with time after being allowed to sit and marinate in the fridge overnight. You know how some people say that leftovers taste better than the night before? It’s true! Also, veggie soups, and all soups really, allow for a variety of flavors. You can throw in all kinds of herbs, spices, and vegetables together into a bowl.
Even more, you get those veggies in a warm, filling, appetizing way.
Lentils! Lentils are our secret ingredient for great vegetable soup because, though a non-meat legume, they add an overall, vegetarian superfood punch to your mix. Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber (the last part meaning guaranteed regularity). They also pair just fine with vegetables and grains (and grain-like substitutes like quinoa for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity). Lentils provide essential folate in pregnancy, may support heart health due to their high source of fiber, folic acid, and potassium, and improve immune response to infection from its selenium content that stimulates the production of disease-fighting T cells.
There are plenty of good vegetarian soup recipes out there. Lentil varieties are a highly popular one.
To add lentils to soup and to make dal (lentil soup) tasty, consider mixing it dry with the other dry ingredients in a soup mix in a jar. Here’s a neat soup mix in a jar and lentil soup recipe to give you a head start! Let’s learn how to make winter vegetable soup (and for the fall too)!
Layer in the following ingredients in no particular order (they’ll be mixed together in the soup anyway) in highly secure, glass containers that are inherently food-safe like Heremes clamp jars, which are popularly used in food storage. Clamp jars are well sealed, equipped with a silicone gasket and metal locking clamp to make sure your food stays clean, fresh, and safe while in storage. You can also use Anchor canning jars or mayo economy jars. Then store the soup mix in your kitchen cabinet or right on the countertop until soup cooking day:
Powdered veggie stock: You could also hold on this ingredient and use liquid stock right as you cook the soup. You could also use chicken broth or stock powder or liquid during that time too, but since our focus is vegetable soup, that’s what we went with here.
Dry red, green, or brown lentils: Red lentils break down and purée the easiest in the bunch. If you’re not a huge lentil fan, then simply replace it with white beans for a white bean soup twist, black beans, cannellini beans, or chickpeas.
Spices: A cozy mix of ground cumin, curry powder, paprika, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, cayenne and/or red pepper (depending on how hot and spicy you want it or can handle it), and saffron (You can diversify these spices as much as possible, either using them all or picking and choosing a few. Of course, if you don’t like a particular spice then nix it).
Salt and black pepper: For seasoning, as always.
Veggies! Garlic, carrots, shallots, tomatoes*, celery, sweet potatoes, butternut squash*, potatoes, and kale (every soup has kale for some reason, but you can also consider other vegetable greens). Chop and dice them as much or as little as you’d like and here’s help to clean, harvest, cut, and store such fall produce.
*Technically and botanically, tomatoes and butternut squash are fruits, but they are often used in the culinary sense as veggies.
1.Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add water (or oil), garlic, shallots/onion (optional), carrots, and celery. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and stir until soft. (If cooking in a slow cooker or crock pot, after this step, you’ll ignore all of the others and move to transferring this mixture, the remaining veggies, the soup mix, and water to the slow cooker. You’ll cover it and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours, or in other words, overnight, if you prepare the soup in the evening.)
2.Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until slightly tender and golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic (turn heat down if it’s cooking too quickly.)
3.Add potatoes and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more.
4.Add your soup mix and increase heat to medium high. Bring to a rolling simmer. Then add lentils and stir. Once simmering again, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are tender.*
5.Add your greens, stir, and cover. Cook for 3-4 minutes more to wilt. Then taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt and pepper for overall flavor, vegetable broth if it’s become too thick, or herbs for earthy flavor. Wondering how to make lentil soup thicker if it’s instead not thick enough? Simply use less water and liquid stock/broth in this step.
The soup is done!
*If you want to speed up the cooking time of your lentils, use an Instant Pot and/or partially pre-cooked varieties.
Any kind of salad can pair will with lentil soup. Go with what you like! Side dishes that go with vegetable soup, are also highly optional. For this lentil soup, consider rice, quinoa or another gluten-free grain alternative, cauliflower rice, or a side of flatbread or rolls.
If the lentils get mushy when you cooked them, you more than likely overcooked them. It is important to note that you do not need to cook lentils before adding them to the slow cooker. Raw lentils cook well in the crock pot and will be tender by the time the soup is done. To prepare the lentils, simply rinse them to remove any dirt, then add raw lentils to the slow cooker with the other ingredients.
Lentil soup can keep in the refrigerator in airtight glass storage containers like the Heremes clamp top jars again as glass is inherently food safe and the clamp jars maintain a tight closure. You can also use a large 32 oz. Mayo jar depending on how much vegetable soup you cooked and have left over. In this way, the lentil soup will keep for up to 5 days, so that means during busy work weeks, you can have a quick dinner already prepared each night.
To reheat the fall soup, just pop some of the soup leftovers on the stovetop with a little water or additional broth/stock to thin as needed. To freeze the lentil soup, place it in an airtight freezer-safe, food storage container or food box in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
It is not unhealthy to eat lentil soup twice a day.
Soups take so long to cook because that’s the point! Like we mentioned earlier, the heart of soups is the hearty, marinated flavors all wrapped up in a warm bowl. That’s what makes it such a comfort food. Some of the best things take time and soup is definitely one of them. Of course, you could always opt for a quicker stovetop soup cook, but even that will take a bit of time (about thirty minutes) to get all of the beans prepared and flavors simmered to perfection. So clean out and heat up the slow cooker, pressure cooker, or instant pot, and get to work on your next best fall soups and best winter soup recipes!
Do you have a favourite recipe for a winter soup or Christmas soup? What about autumn soups? What is the recipe for your favorite soup? Definitely share with us! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and hashtag your photo masterpiece with #JarStoresouptopchef!