Following on from a busy couple weeks in the office, when you simply only have five minutes to grab something and head back to your desk, I’ve embraced the routine of packing my lunch. Packed lunches, rekindle both sweet and sour memories of past school lunches with soggy brown paper wrapped sandwiches, squashed fruit at the bottom of the schoolbag and half eaten packs of nuts. But one packed lunch that always packed a punch was the trusted and reliable thermos of soup (I’m convinced the pink Barbie thermos made it taste even better).
Channelling my inner-child while also realising my since established cooking skills, I am hoping to revive and reinvigorate the concept of the ‘Bring Your Own Lunch’. Also for those pinching the purse strings it will come as no surprise that packing your lunch results in a more nutritious looking bank account at the end of the month.
Kicking off the ‘Corporate Packed Lunch is a recipe for a ‘warm-the-cockle-of-your-bones’ soup. This green lentil soup is an adaptation of the Barefoot Contessa’s French Green Lentil Soup which upon Googling has received rave reviews amongst both the taste and health conscious.
The recipe is easy to follow – no Raymond Blanc culinary skills required! There is plenty of vegetable chopping involved so I recommend a sharp knife, a large chopping board and plenty of gung-ho! A sturdy stock-pot also comes in handy due to the large quantity of soup the recipe yields. I ended up with four lunch sized Tupperware containers worth of soup, three of which I chucked into the freezer.
The soup re-heated in the microwave in about 3 minutes with a quick stir at the 1 minute 30 second mark. I served it with a generous dollop of sour cream and two slices of Vogels with vegemite.
The meal was certainly hearty and for those with smaller appetites I would recommend ditching the toast. While the addition of vegemite to my toast received a few strange looks from colleagues, it provides a fabulous salty lift to the smooth earthy flavour of the lentils and vegetables.
For the health conscious you’ll be pleased to know that a decent serving of this soup is just over 400 calories, is jam packed with nutrients thanks to its high vegetable density and lends a good protein and fibre dose towards you daily allowance. I must admit, I felt healthy after eating it.
As I have about five more servings of this soup sitting in my freezer I will be eating this again, but I have also added this to my winter repertoire of lunch recipes to be made again. I suggest making this over the weekend due to longer cooking time required.
Overall, this is a tasty, healthy and cost effective lunch option – well worth a go!
Overall rating: 8/10
The score template for rating:
- Total cost of ingredients: $20
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- Cost per serve: $2.50
- Total Time: 2 hours (Prep 20 min, cooking 1 hour 30 minutes)
- Level: Easy
- Likelihood of making it again: High
The Barefoot Contessa’s French Green Lentil Soup (adaptation)
- 1 pound French green lentils
- 2 onions chopped
- 2 leeks chopped (white part only)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 stalks of celery diced
- 4 to 6 carrots diced
- 2 litres of chicken stock
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- Optional but recommended: A healthy glug of red wine!
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot.