Red Lentil & Spinach Soup - Easy

Tonight is the reheated roast beef that I had thoughtfully frozen to use in the future.  And today is the future.  OK, entree done!   Barely broke a sweat!

Since today's entree consisted of 1) yank bag from freezer, 2) dump in casserole, then 3) nuke, I had plenty o'time to make a more complex, yet easy and very healthy item to accompany it.

Except I didn't have time to go food shopping yet this week, and had very little of healthy goodness left in the fridge .  And every recipe I wanted to make went along the lines of, "hmm ... looks good, oops, no gots any (fill in critical ingredient here)", then repeat a bunch of times.

But then, score!  A soup recipe where all the ingredients (or acceptable subs) are in stock (get the pun?  Soup? Stock?  ... :P)

The original recipe was found over at Good Housekeeping a while back.  I made only a few minor tweaks, such as using a can of chicken broth instead of the more veggie-friendly vegetable broth  I normally used.  The original also calls for a 5 oz. bag of spinach.  I had a 6 oz. bag, but the expiration date was two days ago, and after removing the yucky not-quite-perfect leaves it left me with about the 5 required ounces.

By the way, this soup, plus a bread du jour, is fine as a light meal in itself.

As an alternate way of preparing the soup, after the lentils are tender but before the spinach is added, grab your immersion blender and hit the soup a few times.  Juuuuust enough to smooth it out a bit; leave a few chunks for contrast.  Then toss in the spinach.   I didn't bother with that today.  However, it makes for a creamier soup, but without the cream.

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup
Serves 6

1 Tbl. olive oil
3 medium carrots (or around 12 baby carrots)
1 small onion
1 tsp. cumin
1 can (14.5 oz.) petit diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14.5 oz)  vegetable broth (or 2 cups reconstituted your favorite bullion)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste if required
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 bag (5 oz.) baby spinach leaves

Heat a 4 qt. minimum-sized saucepan over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, add the olive oil, wait 10 seconds, then add carrots and onions.

Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender, about 6-8 minutes.  Stir in cumin and stir continuously for 30 seconds to release fragrance.

Pour in tomatoes and their juice, broth, lentils, water, salt and pepper.

Cover and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Looks like too much, but wait a few minutes.

Stir in spinach, then turn off heat.

Same spinach, couple minutes later.

Let sit for 5 minutes to let spinach wilt.

 Ladle into bowls and enjoy hot!