Fall is a busy time with kids returning to school, sports and team activities starting up, and winter to prepare for – think snow tires and shovelling. When it starts to get cooler outside, our bodies often desire a hearty and hot meal. But how do we feed our desire for this warm and nourishing meal when we are strapped for time? Instead of reaching for the phone to order an expensive and less-than-healthy meal, reach into the freezer! There are many recipes that can be eaten hot from the oven or stove that also create tasty leftovers. These can be packaged up and frozen for a convenient meal solution for future busy times.
I like to freeze leftovers like the Hearty Lentil Soup recipe below. This is a complete meal in one dish that can be easily reheated on a busy evening. Carrots, celery, onions, and tomatoes cover your vegetable requirement, lentils pack a punch with plenty of protein and fibre, farmer’s sausage adds even more protein, and I add bacon because it’s just so darn tasty! In one serving (1/8 of the recipe) of this soup, the lentils alone provide 17 grams of protein and 11 grams of fibre. Getting enough protein is important so that our bodies can build and repair our hardworking muscles, especially after we use them to shovel the driveway! Aside from all of the numbers, this soup will fill your belly, nourish your body, and just simply make you feel cozy on a cold fall or winter night.
The recipe below has been adapted from Flavour First, a cookbook written by my dietitian idol, Mary Sue Waisman.
Do you have a favourite freezer-friendly meal?
Hearty Lentil Soup
• ½ pound (~4-5 strips) bacon, chopped into ½ inch cubes
• 1 cup farmer’s or Kielbasa sausage, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup onion, finely diced
• 1 cup carrots, finely diced
• 1 cup celery, finely diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 8 cups chicken broth or stock
• 19 ounce (540 ml) can diced tomatoes
• 1 pound (500 g) dry green or red lentils, rinsed well
• 1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon to cook. Stir often to be sure the bacon doesn’t become crisp. Cook for about 3 minutes to render some of the fat and then add sausage, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-8 minutes until vegetables are tender and translucent but not browned.
2. Add chicken broth or stock, tomatoes, lentils, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft, about 30-40 minutes.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper.
Recipe adapted from: Mary Sue Waisman. Flavour first: delicious food to bring the family back to the table. 2007. Centax Books.
Check out www.lentils.ca for more lentil nutrition facts and recipes.
About Carly Phinney
Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.