Tomato Lentil Soup with Kale & Cashews

Delivering a bowl of red and green just in time for Christmas. Tis the season for lentils (they're traditionally eaten around the world this time of year to bring good luck for the New Year) and this soup --adapted from Heidi Swanson's Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup-- is a framework for good fortune. A thick base of crushed tomatoes and handfuls of hearty kale supercharge the satisfaction factor of the lentil-studded soup. The recipe lends itself to endless adaptations -- I found it delicious capped with crushed cashews and a swirl of tangy yogurt to brighten the soup's earthy elements. Other ideas:

Swap chard or another green for the kale
Use any combination of lentils -- black beluga, large green, petite crimson...
Add a dash of spice such as paprika or cumin 
Try it with fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
Top it with a fried egg for added protein

[Adapted from 101 Cookbooks]

1 lb lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
4 cups kale, rinsed and chopped 
crushed cashews, for garnish 

1. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add the lentils, cooking for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat; add the onion, salt and pepper and saute for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, bringing the soup to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and cook until wilted, about a minute or two. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.

3. Ladle into bowls, and serve with crushed cashews and a dollop of yogurt.

Serves 6 to 8

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