This week Stonefly Café features Beef Lentil Soup on the menu that is without doubt a customer favorite. Lentils have a rich history within the human experience with archeological evidence suggesting that the growth and use of lentils by humans dates back to at least 8000 BC within areas of Syria. Here in the States, lentils have been used since colonial times, but became more mainstream during World War II when they were promoted as a substitute for meat.
Lentils are a legume, an edible seed that is related to the pea family. Lentils come in a variety of types and can be purchased either whole or split in half. Many believe lentils to have the best taste of all legumes, but I will leave that up to you to decide. Without doubt, lentils are high in nutritional value and when included in a healthy diet, assist with the reduction of cholesterol levels.
Lentils can be used in soups and stews or as the basis for a savory side dish that can be paired with beef, chicken, fish, or as a main event in a plant-based meal. Below, I have attached two lentil recipes that I believe you may enjoy and look forward to hearing about your experience with these recipes or perhaps you have a recipe of your own to share.
Happy Food Friday
Types of lentils
Before we start with lentil recipes, a quick primer on lentil types. All lentils are not created equal! Here are a few of the most popular types of lentils:
- Brown & green lentils: These are the most “standard” varieties when you think of lentils. They cook quickly (in 20 to 30 minutes) and tend to fall apart when cooked instead of holding their shape. This makes them ideal for soups and curries.
- Red lentils: These lentils are a bright orange color most found in Indian curry dishes like daal. They take about 20 minutes to cook and break down easily into a “mush”. When you’re looking for a cozy pile of mushy soup or curry, think red lentils (they break down even faster than brown and green).
- French lentils (also called Puy lentils): These lentils hold their shape when cooked, making them very different from brown, green and red lentils. They’re small and greenish gray. Instead of using them in soups, these lentils are great for salads or stuffing baked sweet potatoes.
- Black lentils (Beluga lentils): Black lentils are the most flavorful around. They’re very small and dark, like a combo of French lentils and brown lentils. That means they’ll hold their shape when cooked which works for salads, but if you cook longer, they’ll also fall apart like in curries.