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Soaking lentils play a critical part in my traditional cooking repertoire. Low in phytic acid and other anti-nutrients, lentils require only a quick soak before they are ready to cook – unlike beans. If you sometimes have trouble digesting beans like I do, even when properly soaked and cooked, lentils are a wonderful alternative.
There are 3 types of lentils: green, brown, and red. I typically use green lentils as they hold their shape very well after cooking, but I have recently found the red lentil to be simply delightful in soups.
When combined in a dish with homemade stock as shown in this week’s video, lentils make an economical, nutritious alternative to meat. The gallon of lentil soup I make in this video only costs about $5 – and I used organic vegetables and organic lentils! This is about 25 cents a serving!
Even the cheapest fast food can’t beat that!
In tough economic times, incorporating lots of lentils into your meals is a smart way to keep the food budget in check without sacrificing anything in nutrition!
Incidentally, Dr. Weston A. Price considered lentils to be the most nutritious of all legumes as they are loaded with potassium,, calcium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. I first learned this at the 2007 Wise Traditions Conference during Sally Fallon Morell’s talk on “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner’. The soup recipe I show you how to make in this video is an adaptation of the lentil soup recipe Sally discussed during that seminar.
I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has over the past few years!
Why Bother Soaking Lentils?
As discussed in the video above, soaking lentils prior to cooking significantly enhances the nutritional value of these tasty legumes. It is a process similar to soaking nuts.
In fact, healthy traditional cultures took great care to soak seeds of all kinds before eating.
Lentils are seeds too!
Soaking virtually eliminates hard to digest lectins, which can cause discomfort and encourage weight gain in some people.
If time is a concern, you can soak large batches of lentils, rinse/low temperature dry and then freeze. This way, when you want to make a recipe using lentils, you can just grab some out of the freezer and cook immediately rather than have to wait several hours or overnight to soak some first.
If you wish to save even more time, you can skip the step requiring soaking lentils and use sprouted lentils instead. I have actually switched over to using sprouted lentils most of the time now that quality organic ones are available at the health food store.
You can use either organic sprouted green lentils or the sprouted lentils trio (black, red, and green lentils). The trio is my favorite.
Be sure to never use the water from soaked beans, lentils, or any other legume for cooking. This modern practice, known as aquafaba, is not traditional. Worse, it is risky to your digestive health.
Soaked Lentils Recipe
Simple recipe for soaking lentils and other legumes to neutralize anti-nutrients so once cooked, their full nutritional value can be enjoyed.
- 3 cups dried lentils green, black or red, preferably organic
- 3 Tbl liquid whey
Put lentils in a large pot and fill with filtered water.
Stir in liquid whey, put lid on the pot and leave on the counter for about 7 hours but no more than 18.
Drain soaking water and rinse drain lentils again.
Your lentils are now ready for cooking and you may use them in whatever dish you choose or proceed to the next step to make lentil soup.
Red lentils basically disintegrate after cooking, so only soak them for use in soup recipes.
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice may be substituted for the liquid whey.
This recipe works for split peas too!
Recipes Using Lentils after Soaking
This basic lentil soup uses soaked lentils as the base. Others to try include curried lentil soup, a delicious variation of the soup recipe above. Another recipe to try using soaked lentils is German lentil soup.
Makes approximately 1 gallon of soup
3 cups red or green lentils, soaked for 7 hours, rinsed and drained (alternatively, use organic sprouted lentils instead).
3 organic onions, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 TBL butter
2 TBL extra virgin olive oil
2 quarts homemade stock (beef or chicken broth, turkey bone broth, pork broth or rabbit broth (half stock, half filtered water may be substituted)
1/2 tsp green peppercorns, ground
1/8 – 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
In a large pot, cook onions and carrots in butter and extra virgin olive oil until soft (about 20-30 minutes). Add stock and lentils and bring to a boil. Skim off foam that rises to the top just before boiling with a large, slotted spoon. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender – about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and curry paste if desired.
Blend soup with a handheld blender right in the pot. Taste. Add ground green peppercorns and sea salt as desired.
Sources: Nourishing Traditions Cookbook
Sally says only soak lentils, split peas and rice 7 hrs. So no overnight soaks. Where did u hear to soak up to 18 hrs? I soak my other beans 24 hrs but if I add an acid, they never cook. So I just have to do plain water. I still toss the water before cooking ??♀️ I love doing an overnight crockpot cooking then bagging after breakfast. So I start soaking night before I cook. It’s a loooong process but fairly easy. Wish I canned as that would take up less space in my freezer! But no pressure canner for me.
I am so sad reading that you can drastically lower the amount of potassium in lentils etc by SOAKING them. (I use our very SOFT chlorine-free tap water as well.) I got a charlie horse in the night and was wondering if it’s that (when I was pregnant 2 years ago, I regularly got them). I eat potatoes daily, and usually a banana, but lately they’ve all been green and take a whole week to ripen…. Here I was thinking, “oh it shouldn’t be that, I made a big lentil soup last night.” I’m not happy to learn this. 🙁
I germinate my lentils. Should I just reduce the soaking time? I don’t dump the cooking liquid, but when I make chickpeas I do. Should we consume the liquid of some legumes?
HI Sarah, can i soak with just normal white vinegar instead? Thanks!
I have been abe to eat red and yellow lentils even without soaking but not able to digest green or brown lentils for years, even after soaking only in water for a day or two. Maybe it’s the shell that also makes difference.
U have to add the acid or the anti nutrients aren’t deactivated. U have to soak at room temp too, for same reason.
Try soaking them correctly and see how you digest them after that.
I’m simmer my soaked lentils to skim off the foam before adding the veggies. Why waste the nutrients from the veggies?
i found a recipe for red lentil kebabs – just soaking red lentils for 20 min or so and then partially processing with other ingredients and then moulding to shape and frying. no probs with digestion – yet – only ate them about an hour ago..nan.
I’ve made the mistake of consuming red and green lentil pasta, organic and off the shelf. I’m sure the legumes used had not been presoaked prior to being made into pasta. Is there anything we can do once the pasta is made in the factory, to lower the phytic acid when we get it home? Thank you for your site!
Sarah Pope MGA
Not that I know of. Soaking it will make it mushy.
I have just come across your videos and thought they are well done. I don’t want to seem negative but I noticed the lentils were not washed or rinsed prior to soaking. Most dried beans and rice and grains are heavily fumigated prior to bagging. While most of this pesticide is evaporated, small amounts will remain on the food and dissolve once water comes in contact with the product. Usually the fumigants used are deadly toxins. There won”t be a deadly dose left on the pulses but they do bioaccumulate. Best to wash.
Many of us only use organic legumes and beans. I’ sure Sara does as well.
I’ve soaked red lentils with cultured apple vinegar or with kefir. Either way they turn out chewy, as if they are undercooked, even though I cooked them for several hours. If I soak them in plain water, they cook quickly and have a soft texture, but then they cause a lot of intestinal pain. What should I be doing differently?
Let me make sure I’m understanding. You are soaking the lentils in water with a bit of ACV or whey, draining the soaking water and then cooking them in fresh water? If so, I don’t know what might be the problem. Mine always turn out lovely and soft.