1 cup red lentils (TIP: Spread lentils on a baking sheet and pick over for stones or debris, then rinse well.)
4 cups cubed eggplant (½-inch cubes)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 slices whole-grain bread
4 oz crumbled soft herbed goat cheese (TIP: Substitute with mozzarella cheese.)
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350˚F. In a large pot, heat 1 tsp oil on medium-low. Add garlic and sauté, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add broth and 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in lentils, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in eggplant and corn and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, until lentils and eggplant are tender. Stir in spinach and cook uncovered until wilted, about 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare croutons: Cut each slice bread into 4 equal triangles. Add to a small baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining ½ tsp oil, then toss to coat and spread in an even layer. Transfer to oven or toaster oven and bake, turning once, until golden. Top with cheese and bake for 2 more minutes. Serve with soup.
Earthy lentils, a staple in many meatless diets, give this simple yet hearty soup a substantial helping of protein and fiber. Unlike larger legumes, there’s no need to presoak lentils before adding them – just pick out any pebbles or broken pieces and give them a rinse in a sieve. Sauté the onions and garlic for the soup while you prep the rest of the veggies – then set the slow cooker and go.
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