Easy Lentil Soup

Lentils are great. Not only are they packed full of nutrients, but they soak up flavor like a sponge. Lentil soups freeze well, so I often make a big batch of this at the beginning of winter, to pull out when I need some extra warmth. Although this is 'chicken-free', it has the same allure, and similar flavors to a chicken soup. Lentils are naturally high in protein, fibre and iron, making this a healthy addition to any meal plan.

Ingredients (makes enough for 5-6):
1 teaspoon oil
1 tbsp margarine
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt (start with a 1/4 tsp and add accordingly once soup is being finished)
2 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 tsp Italian seasoning
a few grinds of pepper

1 1/2 cups lentils (red works great)
8 cups vegetable broth (you can also use a 'chicken-less' chicken broth. "Better then Bouillon" makes a great one)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp miso paste

1) Saute onion in oil and margarine with bay leaves and salt, until onion becomes translucent (about 5 minutes). Add carrots and seasonings, sauteing for an additional 5 minutes (which brings out the flavors of the seasonings, and softens the carrot slightly).
2) Add stock, and lentils, simmering for 20 minutes or until lentils and carrots are fully softened, and the soup is slightly thickened. Remove the bay leaves, and stir in additional ingredients. Enjoy!
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