Lentil Stoup (somewhere between a stew and a soup)

     According to Cuisine a tHome magazine (Issue 83, October 2010), “These humble, little legumes have been around for nearly 10,000 years for a reason — they’re not only good but good-for-you!
     Lentils are literally nutritional powerhouses – full of protein, fiber, and a good source of vitamins and minerals (see Lentil Lore that follows the recipe).
    They fall into the category of food called “Pulses”, which includes dried beans and peas as well. Available in several varieties (Lot of Lentils below), lentils are thin-skinned and therefore require no presoaking like other dried beans and peas.
     Because lentils swell to nearly three times their original volume, generally a 3:1 liquid to lentil ratio is used. Like their cousins, lentils should be simmered in unsalted liquids (salt toughens their skins preventing softening).
     Lentils are often an addition to soups and stews as in the recipe that follows. However, they may be cooked separately and then stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Lentil & Vegetable-Barley Stoup (somewhere between a stew & a soup)    Makes 4 serving
1 tablespoon+ olive oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
6 to 8 cups chicken broth  – start with 4 cups and add more as the stoup cooks (or use vegetable broth for a truly vegetarian version)
¾ to 1 cup dry brown lentils
¼ cup dry pearl barley*
1 tablespoon+ Roasted Chili, Cumin & Garlic Blend (if you can’t find this blend, just use a combination of these individual spices)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, optional
Pinch salt

1.  In a saucepan or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add olive oil and onions. Sauté for about 1 minute and add celery and carrots. Sauté for about 2 minutes.
2.  Add broth, lentils, barley, spice blend and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cooking the stoup for 40 minutes to an hour—until the lentils are softened and barley is expanded and soft and the stew is thick (add more broth if it gets too thick).
3.  Add salt near the end of the cooking period as needed.
Variations:  Add sliced mushrooms or peppers (or other vegetables of your choice); sauté them with the other veggies.

Nutrition Per Serving: Total calories: 319; 
Protein: 18 g; 
Carbohydrates: 45 g; 
Fat: 8 g/ Calories from fat: 24%/ Saturated fat: 3g/ Cholesterol: 12 mg.; Sodium: 525 mg.;
 Fiber: 19 g

*Types of BarleyHulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off. It's a little less nutritious, but more popular since it's not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.  Quick-cooking or rolled barley flakes are steamed and then rolled so they cook even faster and may be used in place of oatmeal.

Lots of Lentils
·   Brown:  Usually found in most grocery stores, this is the most common variety and, quite inexpensive. Their tougher skins require 30 to 45 minutes cooking to soften; they retain their shape as they cook.
·   Green or Lentils du Puy: French green lentils are smaller and rounder than brown lentils; they contain less starch than other varieties so they’re firmer when cooked.
·   Red: Referred to as Red Chief or simply red, they are actually more salmon-colored. These lentils are split, so they cook very quickly – in just 10 to 15 minutes, but they don’t hold their shape, making their ideal for puréed soups.
·   Golden: Rounder in shape than the others, this variety holds up to cooking if not  overcooked – just 25 minutes at the most.

Lentil Lore – Nutritional Benefits
·  Made up of 25% protein, lentils have one of the highest protein contents of any vegetable, other than soybeans.
·   Lentils are cholesterol free, virtually fat free, and are low in calories – a cup of cooked lentils weights in at just 210 calories.
·   Like all beans, lentils are a very good source of dietary fiber — 1 cup cooked lentils contain 16 grams of fiber, nearly two-thirds of the 25 grams women need daily. The fiber helps fight the battle of the bulge by making you feel fuller longer. Fiber also helps regulate blood-sugar levels after meals.
·  Lentils are a good source of iron, which helps increase energy. When served with foods rich in vitamin C, that iron is absorbed more easily and efficiently.
·   An excellent source of folate (an essential nutrient, especially important for women of child-bearing age), lentils contain more naturally occurring folate than any other non-fortified food. One cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of the RDA of folic acid. Since human bodies don’t naturally make folate, it must come for food or nutritional supplements.
Information adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine (Issue 83, October 2010).

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