Meatless Mondays: Fill up on lentil soup

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

Much less well-known than Taco Tuesday is Meatless Monday.

The Monday Campaign is a global movement started in 2003 by Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Monday was chosen because research shows it is the day people are most open to change.

The idea of not eating meat for a day has been around for 100 years.

It was first proposed during World War I as a way to save valuable resources for the troops. President Franklin D. Roosevelt revived the idea during World War II. Twelve million people signed a pledge to go meatless on Mondays.

In the 21st century, our problem now is not too little meat but too much. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes are problems across the globe. A plant-based diet is a proven step to stop these preventable diseases.

Eating less meat is also good for the planet. If everyone in the United States skipped meat for just one day a week, we would save 100 billion gallons of water and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Below is a recipe for your first Meatless Monday. Lentil soup is thick and hearty, so you won’t leave the table feeling hungry. Lentils cook quickly with no soaking required. They are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Lentils are also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber.

At about a dollar per pound, they also make a dinner that is easy on your pocketbook.

There are many types of lentils, but for this soup you want the brown variety that is commonly available in supermarkets.

Cornbread is a good complement for lentil soup, but slices of hearty bread work well, too.

Lentil soup is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and it doesn’t cost much to make.

Lentil Soup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pound lentils, picked over and washed
  • 2 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A few grindings of pepper
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large potato, peeled cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until the liquid has been reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, cabbage, water, bay leaves, basil, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Add the vegetables and parsley, and cook 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Before serving, stir in the lemon juice.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.