Why do I love slow cookers? #1—they are easy! You can throw all of your ingredients into one pot in the morning, turn to low, and when you arrive home in the evening, dinner is ready and your house smells amazing! The other reason I love slow cookers is for health reasons. Cooking food at a low temperature for long periods of time is a great way to retain nutrients. Some nutrients are heat-sensitive and cooking for short periods of time over high heat (such as grilling or baking in a very hot oven) can destroy them.
Today’s recipe is a slow cooker curry lentil soup. I love lentils because they’re a cheap source of protein (my one pound bag was just $1.89), and any kind of legume/lentil (think kidney beans, black beans, etc.) is a great source of soluble fiber–important for managing healthy cholesterol. Lentils on their own can be a bit……….bland, but fortunately, they will take on the flavor of whatever you cook with them. This recipe certainly does not lack in flavor with all of the spices and veggies that we will be adding!
For this recipe, I’ve chosen two curry powders. The first is a traditional curry powder, which is primarily made from turmeric. Turmeric gives the soup a bright yellow hue (be careful, it will also stain anything and everything).
As you’ve probably already guessed, there’s a health benefit, in addition to it being tasty! Turmeric contains curcumin, a phytonutrient classified as a ‘polyphenol.’ I know, big words, right? No need to memorize the fancy terminology; the big take away is this–phytonutrients are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that reduce inflammation. Long-term inflammation can lead to chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, and spices contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are components that reduce the formation of free radicals in our bodies. Fewer free radicals may reduce risk for developing cancer.
The other spice blend in this recipe, garam masala, contains a variety of spices, one of which is cinnamon. Cinnamon, like turmeric, is also an anti-inflammatory and may help regulate healthy blood sugar. In a nutshell, these spices do more than simply flavor food. They really can benefit your health!
Now, let’s get cooking!
- 6 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 cup of green or brown lentils
- 6-8 baby carrots (or 1-2 whole carrots), sliced
- 2 stalks of celery, sliced
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
- 1 wedge of lime
With the exception of the chopped fresh spinach and wedge of lime, combine and stir all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Don’t open the lid during the cooking process! This will just make the cooking time longer!
When your time is up, stir in the chopped fresh spinach and squeeze lime juice. Stirring the spinach in at the end rather than the beginning will keep the green hue nice and bright and won’t make for a mushy texture. Additionally, using a small squeeze of citrus adds a nice touch of acidity.
This recipe makes four servings. If you’re cooking for one or two people, it will heat up nicely the next day for a great lunch. I paired my soup with a slice of whole grain rye bread.