Heart disease is Ireland’s biggest killer, chased closely by bowel cancer. If you’re worried about either condition, make friends with VHI. Or lentils. You don’t have to be a member of the Green Party to enjoy them, or start campaigning against animal cruelty. Just a little mustard and garlic, and in no time you’ll be the best of friends.
We love lentils for their stash of PMT-busting magnesium and body-building iron. Lentils are also heavyweight champions of fibre. Why is this important to you? Fibre is crucial to maintaining a healthy cholesterol range by helping deport excess bile from the body. At the same time, fibre gives your pipes a first rate servicing. One cup of the red variety holds a whopping 16g of fibre. These tiny amber legumes manage to house other salubrious gifts such as protein, heart-healthy potassium, fertile folate and energy-loving B vitamins. You’ll find that boring old pasta just can’t boast the same.
Red lentils add a surprising creaminess to soups. Unlike their green and brown cousins, the red ones rarely lead to trouser trumpets (Foxrock for flatulence). Green and brown lentils are firmer in structure, so prefer to tango with salads rather than soups. As inspired by food writer Katy McGuinness, we’re letting five-spice and apple party in the same pot. Five-spice powder is a magnificent blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and black pepper that help ramp up this soup’s flavour powers. There are several variations, so it won’t matter which one you lay your mitts on. Ready, steady?
2 white onions
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
1 large apple, peeled and cored
1 cup red lentils, washed
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 cups good stock or seasoned water
1 small tub of coconut milk yoghurt (we use CoYo)
1 clove garlic
Chervil, chives or other herbs
Start by sweating the onions to bring out their natural sweetness. To do this, peel and dice the onion first. Tumble into a warm pan with the oil. Keep on a low heat. As the onions gently cook, they will turn translucent and sweet. After five or six minutes, add the spices. Dice the ginger and apple, and let them join the party. As soon as the onions look glassy, tip in the washed lentils, tomato puree and stock. Whack up the heat to get it pumping. Then turn it down to a gentle putter for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, get going on the garlic coconut yoghurt. Mince the clove using the finest part of your grater (the one usually reserved for lemon zest). Add the minced garlic to the yoghurt, and grab any herbs you may have loitering in the fridge. Allow the flavours infuse while you wait for your lentils to yell.
As soon as the lentils are done, whizz into a smooth soup using a hand blender. Pour into great big mugs, then bless with garlic yoghurt and fresh herbs. Serve with woolie socks and good company.