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Cuban Style Lentil Soup with Baked Plantains and Lemon Crema

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A robust soup with plenty of vegetables and spiced up with traditional Cuban flavors. Garnished with a lemon-crema and irresistible baked plantains. Warming and healthy! Vegetarian and Gluten-Free.

Comfort in a bowl – chock full of vegetables and classic Cuban onion and garlic essence with a kick
Wonderful garnishes include: Baked Plantain Cubes, Lemon Crema, Sliced Jalapeños, Cilantro Leaves and Roasted Spiked Chickpeas

With a squeeze of lemon juice, this simple, satisfying, rustic-style winter soup is particularly refreshing. As in most of my soups – vegetables are center stage. Lentils have an amazing earthy and hearty flavor, when teamed with heady spices – it’s packed with nutrition to keep you going all day long.

Lentils cook with onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves and vegetable broth – teamed with my special Salt Free Sazón Cuban Seasoning for a blast of Cuban essence.
A portion of the soup is blended into a puree for a lovely consistency.

Garnishes adds a layer of yum and complexity – Oven Roasted Plantains (calories saved), Roasted Spiked Chickpeas, Lemon Crema, Sliced Jalapeños and Cilantro Leaves offer sweet, creamy, crunchy and spicy notes.

Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves.

Use Sprouted Lentils – for easier digestibility!
Sprouted Lentils are easier to digest – increasing vitamins and micronutrients and activating digestive enzymes.
Sprouting breaks down the seed’s protective coating and helps to unlock its nutrients.
Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition! A great source of fiber, lean protein (cooked lentils provide 18 grams of protein per cup), folate and iron.
Some people may experience flatulence and abdominal discomfort when initially adding legumes like lentils into their diet – so use the sprouted variety, or soak them.

Alternately – soaking lentils in plenty of cold water overnight can significantly reduce their phytate levels, helping to lower their potential for causing bloating. Not just “overnight” as many recipes call for, but for 1-3 days. The longer they are soaked the easier they are to digest – do so in very warm, filtered water.

On a recent trip to South Beach, Miami  – I enjoyed the Art Deco aesthetic, and made time to visit Little Havana. It is noted as a famous center of social, cultural, and political activity of Cuban Americans.

I dined at Versailles Restaurant, a popular place for Cuban food and social gathering in Miami. It is said: “Versailles: 40 years serving food with a side of politics.” This is where U.S. presidents, governors, legislators, mayors and commissioners come to court the Cuban vote and be photographed.
Part cafeteria, restaurant, and bakery, it is a landmark eating establishment located in Little Havana, Miami.

Inside this oversized dining hall, the glitzy and gleaming interior does not match with the casual, comfort food which is served. The somewhat formal decor is a throwback to the Versailles Palace’s Hall of Mirrors in France. All staff is clad in Versailles green embroidered uniforms; each has a job to do and the service is most efficient (compare to Chinese restaurants where the food is served within minutes.) The surprisingly affordable menu – in diner style, offers go-to Cuban specialties, Spanish influences are abundant. At the bakery next door (which you can walk through from the restaurant) I enjoyed a delightful caramel flan in an tidy aluminum ramekin and a strong Cafe Cubabo in a tacitas (tiny cup.)

I was excited to return to my Connecticut kitchen and test a version of Sopa de Lentejas. Cuban food brings together the flavors of many different Carribbean traditions and mixes them together.

Cuban cuisine primarily peasant cuisine, and has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures.

The ultimate Cuban recipe is “good food, good friends, good music… more good food.”

Enjoy this special soup,
Karen

Ingredients for the soup
Delicious un-fried! Roast slices of ripe Plantains brushed with oil. Cube for garnish
Oven roasted plantains
Roasted Spiked Chickpeas with Karen’s Salt Free Sazón Cuban Seasoning
A hearty soup with high-quality protein and fiber. Low in calories and fat
For a Vegan bowl of soup, omit the lemon crema
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