Lentil Soup

While I was growing up in Greece, my mother prepared meatless dishes during the week and made dishes with chicken, pork or beef tenderloin on a Sunday. Sunday was a special meal. The whole family looked forward to it. We all gathered around the table, to enjoy any type of meat with some kind of vegetable or starch, that my mother had prepared (like the roasted chicken with potatoes - Roasted Chicken with Potatoes in the oven) one of my first posts. Living in the US, I’m trying to incorporate that same principle that my mother had, by trying to cook meatless dishes during the week, and enjoying meat on a Sunday. Sometimes I accomplish that, but other times it’s quite difficult.

Lentil soup is a common dish to prepare during Lent. This year, Greek Easter falls on May 5th thus our Lent period is still on. It began on March 18th and it will last till our Easter Sunday which is seven weeks from March 18th. Our Easter follows the Julian calendar and should not coincide with Easter of other faiths. During Lent, strict food restrictions apply. According to our Greek Orthodox customs, meat, fish or poultry is forbidden to eat (except crustaceans) even dairy and olive oil. The only two days that we are allowed to eat fish is March 25th (Fried Cod in Beer Batter) when we celebrate our Greek Independence Day and the Annunciation of Virgin Mary (or Evangelismos of Theotokos - pronounced: E-van-geh-lee-zmos of Thee-ott-oh-kos), and on Pam Sunday.

Living away from the Mother country is always difficult to establish these rules. As hard as I try, there are days that I will have to skip the tradition and end up cooking a dish with meat. Lentil soup is easy and fast to make, and since my family likes it, I cook it often during Lent.

Enjoy!!!

Makes 8 servings (approximately 15 oz each or 2 cups per serving)

½ cup olive oil
¾ cup chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 ¼ cup sliced carrots
1 lbs lentils (16 oz)
8 cups water
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
2 tbsp chopped parsley
4 bay leaves

Wash the lentils and remove and foreign objects, like tiny rocks that might have escaped into the package. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven, over high heat, pour the ½ cup olive oil. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté till transparent. Add the sliced carrots and the lentils. Add the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes,salt, cumin, chopped parsley, bay leaves and the 8 cups of water. Let it come to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for one hour. Remove from heat. Before serving remove the bay leaves.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
15.613 oz (442.6g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 344
Calories from fat 122
Total Fat 13.5g
Saturated Fat 1.9g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 596mg
Total Carbohydrates 42.1g
Dietary Fiber 19.4g
Sugars 6.1g
Protein 16.2g


Ground turkey spaghetti sauce or Makaronia me kima

Per my daughter’s request, I’m posting my Greek style Bolognese sauce or Makaronia me kima (pronounced ma ka ro nia me kee mah) , which approximately translates to “Spaghetti with meat sauce”, or as I have always called it “spaghetti sauce”. My daughter happened to walk in as soon as I finished making this sauce. She commented that the house smelled wonderfully from all the herbs and spices, and asked if I could make some and freeze it for her to have on hand, when she is on her own. Of course, I granted her request.

Bolognese sauce originated from Bologna, Italy, and while this style of meat sauce incorporates vegetables in it, like carrots and celery, the Greek style spaghetti sauce, like my mother used to make, omits these vegetables. I have tried it with shredded carrots and diced green peppers, when I have the time; but most likely, I will make it the way it is made below. The Greek version is quick and quite easy. No long hours of cooking so that the wine will evaporate like the Italian version. Within an hour, you have a sauce that you can serve either on whole-wheat pasta, gluten free pasta or over spaghetti. You can substitute the ground turkey with ground beef, as the actual Greek translation of “kima”(kee mah) means ground beef (my mother always made it with ground beef). Sprinkle some shredded romano cheese, or like my mother used to shred kefalotyri (pronounced ke fa lo ty reh) similar to romano cheese, or kasseri (pronounced ka se reh) cheese which is similar to provolone or muenster cheese but a bit harder when it’s aged. Enjoy!

Ground turkey spaghetti sauce or Makaronia me kima 

Makes 10 servings

½ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsps chopped garlic
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
15 oz tomato sauce
15 oz diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chopped basil
1-1 ½ cans of water

Dice the onion and garlic. Chop the basil and parsley. Set aside. In a deep saucepan sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add the ground turkey. Sauté till browned. Continue stirring and add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add one–one and a half cans of water; let it come to a boil and then simmer for about an hour till most of the liquid is absorbed.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (183.5 g)
Amount per Serving
Calories 274
Calories from Fat 174
Total Fat 19.3g
Saturated Fat 3.8g
Cholesterol 69mg
Sodium 534mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.0g
Dietary Fiber 1.8g
Sugars 3.5g
Protein 20.0g