As a chef, I am always looking for ways to cut down on food waste, both at my restaurant and at home. If you're following Well+Good's 2022 ReNew Year program, you already know that getting scrappy in the kitchen (literally) benefits the planet and also saves money—two major wins in my book. I view food scraps as fun cooking challenges. Carrot tops, for example, can be used in homemade pesto. And kale stems can be added to smoothies to instantly up the fiber.
One habit I've gotten into is storing my spinach in the freezer to be defrosted and used later in soups, stews, and other warm entrees. It's an easy way to add fiber and iron to meals I may not have thought to use fresh spinach in. One soup it tastes especially good in is a herb and sweet potato lentil soup (hi, boatloads of lentils benefits), one of my winter dinner go-tos. This soup is so full of protein, fiber, and anti-inflammatory herbs that it picks me right up when I start feeling run-down. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, which helps support the immune system, too.
- Palak Patel, award-winning chef and TV personality
Besides being a great dish for using my frozen spinach, it's also the perfect meal for incorporating any herbs I have that have started to wilt and lost their vibrancy. Soup is one dish that appreciates wilted softness. In this recipe, I specifically use scallions, parsley, and dill, but if you have other veggies or herbs in the crisper nearing expiration, feel free to incorporate them as well. This is one soup where you definitely don't have to stick straight to the recipe.
Keep reading to see how to make it step-by-step, but again, feel free to make it your own depending on what ingredients you have on hand. One taste and I bet it will quickly become one of your favorite cozy winter soups for the regulars, too.
Herby sweet potato and lentil soup recipe
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 leek, white part, chopped
3 scallions, white and green, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup green lentils, soaked in cold water
2 cups sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted
1 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp saffron (optional)
5 cups vegetable broth (or water with vegetable bouillon)
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat and add garlic, onion, leeks, scallions, and salt and pepper. Sauté until translucent.
2. Add lentils, sweet potato, spinach, turmeric, and saffron with vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper and cover. Simmer on low until lentils are completely cooked and sweet potato is tender. Add additional stock or water as needed.
3. Stir in parsley, dill, and lemon juice. Cook for another five minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve while hot.
Looking to hit refresh on your healthy habits this January? Check out our full 2022 ReNew Year program for expert-led plans for better sleep, nutrition, exercise, and self-care routines.
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