I don’t know about you, but cold weather sends me straight into a soup season frenzy. Hearty beef stews, soups, and my favorite: clam chowder. What do all these soups have in common? They’re hearty, they’re warming, and they’re not really that healthy.
It’s not that healthy soups aren’t comforting, I just find it easier to use fatty ingredients to create warming soups. Until now. We discovered this secret ingredient that transforms healthy soups into creamy, comforting winter warmers. You won’t guess which ingredient it is in this quick and easy black bean and lentil soup!
It’s All About the Beans
Before we get to that secret ingredient, let’s talk a little bit about the star of this soup: black beans. These legumes have a creamy texture and mild flavor when cooked through, making them perfect for the base of a soup. Using canned black beans not only speeds up the cooking process significantly, but it also makes sure that those beans will be fully cooked.
What makes black beans so healthy? They have a unique starch structure, made almost entirely of so-called “resistant starches.” These types of starches act a lot like dietary fiber as your body digests them. They pass through the upper digestive tract without being broken down, which means the starches never convert to simple sugars.
All this boils down to two important things: less of a spike in blood sugar levels, and a higher level of satiety. So when you eat black beans, you’ll feel fuller, longer. Nothing wrong with that, especially when they taste so delicious to boot!
Don’t Forget About The Other Bean: Lentils
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the other legume in this soup: lentils. I love using green lentils in this recipe because they have more texture than red lentils, which tend to reduce to mush. This firm texture adds a nice counterpoint to the soft black beans.
These small but mighty legumes bring more than just an amazing nutty flavor to the dish. They’re full of insoluble fiber, along with a myriad of other vitamins and minerals. Not only are they packed with heart-healthy folate and magnesium, iron for energy, but they have an added nutritional benefit. Just one serving of lentils a day can lower “bad” cholesterol as much as 5%! Now that’s a win, win.
OK, What About That Secret Ingredient Already?
I know, you’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation! Ready to know which ingredient is our show stopper? Is it the diced tomatoes? No, those are tasty and will add a nice acidity to the soup, but there’s no secret there. What about the cumin? Nope, that contributes a nice smokiness but people have been combining black beans and cumin for years, that’s nothing new.
It’s the coconut milk. Vegans often cook with coconut milk, and for good reason. This ingredient adds a much-needed fat to this black bean and lentil soup. Those fats help carry all of the other flavors while adding a rich, creaminess that really ties this soup together. Wait, you may say, but isn’t fat bad for you? Yes, and no.
Coconut milk contains a beneficial fat known as lauric acid, which is used by your body as energy. The rest of the fats are saturated fat, which is usually bad for you. In the case of coconut milk, however, research has shown that coconut milk actually improves cholesterol and doesn’t have any detrimental cardiovascular effects.
Quick & Easy Black Bean and Lentil Soup
Before you get started, you might want to read up on the five reasons to eat more coconut. Then, give this amazing black bean and lentil soup a try and let us know what you think! Could you notice the addition of coconut milk, and would you want to make it without our secret ingredient?
Unlike other beans, lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking. They also cook up very quickly, so you won’t have to simmer this black bean and lentil soup away all day.
This recipe is beyond delicious. In fact, clam chowder, although still at the top of my “favorites” list, is now sharing the number one spot with Quick & Easy Black Bean and Lentil Soup.
Yields: 8 cups | Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 232 | Total Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 473mg | Carbohydrates: 38g | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Protein: 13g | Smart Points (Freestyle): 2 |
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dry green lentils
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth, optional water or a combination of the two
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- In a large pot, over medium-low heat, add water and sauté diced onion until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, stir and cover.
- Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until lentils and carrots are tender, approximately 30 minutes.
- Garnish with (optional) diced avocado.
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