Growing up, it was customary to have a meat, vegetable and some kind of grain, whether it was pasta or rice, for dinner. I’ve always eaten rice in a variety of ways, alongside chicken or fish, in a vegetable stir fry, as a side to tacos or enchiladas, stuffed inside peppers, or in a hearty soup. Soup is my favorite way to serve rice because I love the texture it adds and the way that it transforms soup from an appetizer into a filling, well-balanced meal.
Over the past week or so I’ve started to notice the first signs of fall. The air is just slightly chilly, more nights are spent sleeping with windows open than with air conditioners on, light jackets are coming out of the closets, daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter, and leaves have started to fall. I love this time of year! Some of my favorite foods are reintroduced each year as the temperatures begin to drop. And one of those foods is soup. Soup has warm and cozy qualities you just can’t get from other foods. On a night when I’m curled up on the couch with a blanket thrown over my legs, there is nothing that sounds more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup.
Recently we got the opportunity to work with RiceSelect™ and create a recipe to share with our readers. I knew right away that I wanted a new soup recipe in my back pocket for the fall and winter months. I decided to throw lentils into the mix because lentils are an ingredient that has been on my to-do list for far too long. Plus they’re healthy! Can you believe I’ve never had lentils before now?! We chose to work with RiceSelect’s original Royal Blend, but I’m sure the other varieties would work just as well. Royal Blend® with Brown, Red & Wild Rice is an all-natural blend of four rices. This was a perfect blend for our soup because it had a mixture of colors, textures and tastes, all important to develop a soup with a lot of depth. Even better, there are no added flavors or sodium and it cooks fast, in just 15 minutes. The soup turned out exactly as I had hoped, my whole family loved it. Even my Dad loved this soup and he has been known to say ‘it’s okay’ to a meal the rest of my family loved and slaved over a hot stove to make. My Dad grew up eating lentil soup and hadn’t had it in ages. This soup brought back memories of my Grandma’s soup for him. That’s a huge compliment because nobody cooks better than my Grandma!
To purchase, use the RiceSelect store locator or buy online at Amazon.com, as product availability may be limited. Luckily for us, we can find RiceSelect at our local Mariano’s. As I often do, I struggled thinking of a title for this recipe. How do I choose a concise name for a meal that has so many good ingredients and levels of flavor?! I decided to showcase what I believed to be the star ingredients. But the vegetables, which are important too, got left out in the process.
What would you name this dish?
Share your ideas here and you will be entered in a drawing to win a $100 Visa gift card!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 bag baby spinach
- 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth (may want more, depending on thickness)
- 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
- ¾ cup Royal Blend® Brown, Red & Wild Rice
- ½ cup good quality parmesan, shaved (plus the rind)
- french bread slices, toasted (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot (or dutch oven) over medium heat.
- Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Sauté until the vegetables are sweating and tender, about 6 minutes or so.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes along with their juices.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in the lentils and the rind from the parmesan cheese.
- Slowly pour in the chicken broth and stir so that everything comes together.
- Bring soup to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer heat until the lentils are almost tender, 30 minutes.
- Stir in the rice. Cover the pot and simmer, for 10 minutes, over low heat.
- Remove pot from heat, discard the parmesan cheese rind. At this point you can add more chicken broth if the rice has soaked up too much liquid.
- Place the cover back on and let sit for another 5 minutes.
- Add a handful of baby spinach to each serving bowl and ladle the hot soup on top of the spinach.
- Garnish with shaved parmesan on top and toasted bread on the side.
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This sweepstakes runs from 10/7/2013-11/7/2013.
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