As we segue from winter to spring, it’s sometimes challenging to come up with dishes that can make the transition with us from chilly to warm weather. I’ve found that lentils are terrific to cook with year round. And they’re one of those nutritionally perfect foods–high in fiber, high in folate, and a good source of non-meat protein. And studies are showing that adding lentils to the diet of people with diabetes can slightly lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

And they can taste so delicious.

Food writer and friend Caron Golden shared with me our mutual friend Chef Flor Franco’s recipe for Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup, which she recently made with Caron’s mother and served for lunch with roast chicken, rice, salad, and fresh fruit. Flor is the owner of Indulge Catering and has created programs in San Diego that teach low-income women to prepare healthy, low-cost meals for their families.

The soup is an amalgam of lentils and split peas infused with fragrant cumin, coriander, turmeric, Spanish paprika, and cayenne. Add roasted tomatoes, garlic, and onions; fresh minced parsley and cilantro; and a splash of olive oil and that’s about it. The result is a richly flavored but very healthy dish that can be eaten as soup or spread over a steaming mound of rice, depending on how thick or loose you want it. Just add or take out water. For those of you who have vegetarian or vegan clients, you can add this to your repertoire.

Spices

And, here’s a tip, combine the spices in larger quantities in advance and keep in an airtight container to make preparation faster if you plan on making this soup regularly.

lunch

Flor Franco’s Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup
Yield: about 5 servings

15 cups of water
2 cups lentils
2 cups yellow split peas
2 cups green split peas
5 tomatoes (plum tomatoes are good for this)
2 large onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Moroccan spice mix
2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
3 dried Chinese chiles

salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
1/2 cup fresh minced cilantro

Preheat the broiler.

Add the lentils and split peas to a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook about 35 minutes until soft.

Broil the tomatoes, onions, and garlic until they start to brown and soften. Remove from the oven and peel the skin from the tomatoes.

Roasted tomatoes

When the legumes are ready you can remove some of the liquid if you want this mixture to be very thick (so you can mound the dish on a bed of rice) or add more water if you want it more like soup. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the salt, pepper, parsley, and cilantro. Cook for another 10 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and sprinkle with the parsley and cilantro.

Flor's lentils

Do you  have a go-to favorite recipe for clients that’s healthy and nutritious? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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