There was a time in my life — a good chunk of it, actually — when I was a vegetarian.

And I *loved* this soup. It was my go-to, especially at this time of year, when it’s cold and dreary and you are craving a filling, comfort food.

I discovered this recipe when I read Diet for a Small Planet, a hippy-ish book written in the 1970s about embracing a vegetarian diet/lifestyle. I was still in my teens and somehow found a paperback copy of the book and ended up studying it from cover to cover. (I think this was about the time I also found a book about transcendental meditation and spent a long time studying that, too — a really funny story for another day.)

Anyway, my dad, who wasn’t yet 45 years old, had just had a heart attack and I was just starting down the path toward a healthy fitness lifestyle.  I was working out to exercise videos, doing tons of cardio and I also remember cooking a LOT of meals for him during his recuperation from his heart issues.

He and I ate the heck out this soup — I think this one was one of his favorites, because it especially went well with cornbread, another of his all-time favorites.

This is a tasty recipe that is easily doubled/tripled and keeps well — in fact, it tastes better the next day.

Monastery-style Lentil Soup

(slightly tweaked version from the book Diet for a Small Planet)

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon marjoram
3 cups stock (I use organic vegetable bouillon)
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/3 cup fresh-chopped parsley
salt to taste

How to

Heat oil in a large pot and sauté onions and carrot for about 5 minutes. Add herbs and sauté for about 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, salt, parsley, and tomatoes and cook, covered, until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Add optional sherry, salt to taste.

To serve, place 2 tbsp. cheese in each bowl and cover with soup.

4 servings.
Nutrition info, per serving: 265 calories, 37 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fiber, 15 grams protein, 11 grams fat.