Earlier this week, Rob and I were returning home late at night after a day trip. This was just a few hours before the entire Gulf Coast area was hit with an ice storm, so the temperature outside was rapidly dropping. Rob said that he wanted to have some warm soup for lunch the following day. I was surprised by his request because he hardly ever eats soup for lunch, let alone specifically asks for it. I promised him to make some kind of soup by lunchtime the following day but realized that we didn’t have a lot of groceries at home since we skipped our usual grocery trip on the weekend.
When I took a look around the house, I found just enough ingredients to make this soup. It turned out to be delicious and easy to make, and it was certainly a perfect lunch and dinner for us on what came to be the first snowy day in Southern Alabama in years and years. I saw the snow on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay for the first time since moving to the Gulf Coast area 7.5 years ago!
We had to wait three more days before we were able to go to a grocery store: some of the roads were undrivable because of the ice, and most businesses (including grocery stores) were closed. I had two things to be thankful for:
- That we live in quiet suburban area that doesn’t get crazy with traffic – things didn’t get nearly as messy for us as they did in Atlanta;
- That even with what I consider ‘an empty fridge’ I was able to make decent plant-based vegan breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for those three days, including steel-cut oatmeal, blueberry cornmeal muffins, vegan mac and cheese, kidney bean croquettes, pad thai, and the triple lentil and cauliflower soup that I’m featuring today. I knew that my giant stash of dried beans in my pantry would come in handy one day!
As of Thursday and Friday, my town is back to its normal life. The snow is almost all gone (there wasn’t much to begin with), all of the businesses are open, and my fridge is stocked with vegetables for more culinary adventures!
This hearty and filling soup can be put together in well under an hour, making it a good choice for busy nights when you don't have a lot of time to make dinner. The soup is oil-free, packed with nutrition and fiber, and can easily become the next staple food on your dinner table!
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Equal amounts of brown, red, and black lentils ( see note *) to make 1 cup total
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
- 2 cups cauliflower florets ( see note **)
- 8 - 9 cups of vegetable broth (see my easy veggie broth recipe )
- Cooked rice or any other grain (barley, quinoa, couscous), for serving
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp assafetida (optional)
- 1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)
- salt, pepper
- Line a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven with 2-3 Tbsp of vegetable broth. Heat the pot on medium. When the broth gets bubbly, add onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook 3-4 min, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables become soft. You may need to add more broth to prevent sticking.
- While the vegetables are cooking, bring the rest of the broth to a boil in a separate pot.
- Add cumin, turmeric, paprika and assafetida to the vegetables. Stir to distribute the spices, cook for 1 minute, adding more broth if needed.
- Add rinsed lentils, diced tomatoes, and the rest of the hot vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 min, or until the lentils become soft ( see note ***). Stir in salt and pepper.
- Once the lentils are soft, add cauliflower florets to the pot, cover, and cook the soup for 3 minutes more. (Avoid cooking the soup any longer as the cauliflower can turn into mush). Take the pot off the heat, stir in garam masala if using. Let the soup cool off for at least 10-15 min before serving.
- To serve: ladle the soup in individual bowls, top with cooked rice or other grain of choice. Enjoy!
*If you don't have three different types of lentils available, you can easily use 1 cup of regular, brownish-greenish lentils.
**You can omit cauliflower or replace it with broccoli if you like.
***Red lentils tend to completely disintegrate in this soup, adding to a hearty texture, so in the end you'll only see brown and black lentils floating in the soup.
Do you have a favorite plant-based soup or stew that you cook a lot during the winter?