YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Start the New Year Right Soup

Traditionally, High Holyday foods tend toward the sweet and the circular. Sweet for a sweet new year, and circular to represent the seasons that run one into the next, year after year, around and around.

So we eat lots of fruits, especially apples, prunes, pomegranates, dates and apricots; and sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and leeks (sliced into rounds of course); and black-eyed peas and lentils. And lots of honey, especially for dipping bread and apples.

We usually eat fish, too, to represent our wish for blessings in the coming year. Here is an interesting bit of trivia for you: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one time of the year when it is traditional to serve a whole fish with the head intact to symbolize the beginning, or head, of the new year. Trivia bit number two: I only know of one family who does this. It’s not us.

Among gazillions of recipes I looked at this week, including such lovelies as roasted beets and pesto, green beans in tahini-honey sauce, and orange-pomegranate salad from the local News, I decided to share this gorgeous red lentil soup recipe from Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes, by Laura Frankel. Our dear friends sent over a huge potful this week, and I am eternally grateful. It’s a perfect soup to make this New Year ever so special. But don’t think that you need a special reason to make this soup; it’s the kind of recipe that will turn any meal into an occasion.

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced small

3 stalks celery, diced small

1 large Spanish onion, diced small

1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and diced small

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups red lentils

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained OR two 15-ounce cans, drained

1 28-ounce can crushed plum tomatoes with juices

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 quarts vegetable stock

Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

Chopped cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley)

Saute the carrots, celery, onion, fennel and garlic (in batches if necessary) in a large pan on medium to medium-high until lightly browned. Transfer the vegetables to a crockpot.

Add the lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, lemon juice and stock to the crock pot. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-9 hours. NOTE: If you use canned chickpeas, cook for just 4 hours.

Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley. L’shanah tovah, to a good new year!

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