By Dianne Bunis

A well-stocked pantry ought to contain lentils. They are budget-friendly and great for nutrition, providing protein, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C.

A spice to keep on hand is curry powder, which contains many powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and adds a rich taste and aroma. While browsing the bulk food in the natural foods section, red lentils caught my eye. I prepared this soup for lunch, served with a salad of baby lettuce.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 large organic carrot, peeled and sliced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups reduced-sodium organic chicken broth (or veggie broth)

2 cups red lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 14 1/2-ounce can diced natural tomatoes, drained

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

2 bay leaves

Sea salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare:

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot, cook until softened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in broth, lentils and tomatoes, curry powder, bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper.

Optional: Add a cup of fresh greens, such as kale or spinach, to the finished soup and cook until tender and bright green.

Next week: A sweet treat from Nashoba Publishing sportswriter Ed Niser.