Does your body just crave something warm and healthy on a cold day? I know mine does, and soup is usually my go-to dish. This recipe was created by my amazing Mom. It was a dreary, rainy, cold day, and we both needed something healthy and satisfying to warm our bones. She had been wanting to recreate Panera Bread’s new broth bowls, and she decided to use rice pilaf instead of quinoa like they do. However, if you have quinoa on hand or would just prefer to use it, you certainly can. Either way, this is a healthy, low-fat dish with great flavor.
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch of kale (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 (16-ounce) bag lentils
1 (6.09-ounce) package Near East rice pilaf, with seasoning packet
1 (32-ounce) carton vegetable broth
2 (32-ounce) cartons beef broth
5 chopped basil leaves
- Cashews, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil.
- Add the onions and kale and cook until they’re soft.
- Add the entire carton of vegetable broth, lentils, and rice pilaf with the seasoning packet to the pot.
- Stir in the fresh, chopped basil leaves.
- Allow this to cook on medium/medium-low heat until the lentils are soft, the rice is cooked, and most of the liquid has absorbed.
- While this is cooking, heat one carton of beef broth in a separate sauce pan. (You can heat both cartons if needed, but if you aren’t feeding an army, save the second carton for the leftovers.)
- Once everything is cooked and heated through, place some of the lentil/rice mixture into a soup bowl.
- Cover the mixture with the desired amount of beef broth.
- Throw in some cashews, if desired.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
This makes a very large batch – about 12 servings! You can easily cut the ingredients in half if you don’t need so much at once. This also freezes very well, so you can make the whole batch and save some for another time. Just be sure to store it in an air-tight, freezer safe container or a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent any freezer burn.
Near East rice pilaf comes in many different flavors. The original flavor is great, but feel free to experiment with the different varieties. You can also add some shredded chicken or turkey or more veggies if desired. The cashews are definitely optional, but you can also add peanuts or sliced almonds if you’d like. The nuts really add nice flavor and texture. As always, make it your own!