The first food that Derek ever cooked for me was a bowl of lentil soup. He very carefully opened up a can of Progresso lentil soup, and then worked long and hard to “cook” it (in the microwave of course). It was piping hot and delicious.
Both of us still love Progresso vegetable classics lentil soup, but we can’t get it here in Germany. It’s probably for the best though, as I try not to buy canned foods, plus the sodium levels are through the roof. Still, we miss it, and so I decided to try to make it myself. I looked online for a copycat recipe, but couldn’t find anything that seemed promising. So I just took a look at the ingredient list and nutritional label and gave it a crack. I haven’t had the real thing in years, so I could be off, but to both Derek and I my soup tasted just like the real thing.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil (the original uses soybean oil)
- 90g celery (about 2 medium-large stalks), sliced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (64g)
- 1 lb (450g) dry lentils (I used whole Masoor lentils, which are brown on the outside and pink on the inside)
- 8 cups of water
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1.5 tsp. fine salt (~ 9g).
- 2 cubes Rapunzel vegetable bouillon
- 200g frozen spinach (about 1 cup)
- Add the oil to a 4-quart pot and heat. Saute the celery until soft, then add the tomato paste. Cook for another minute or so, then add the lentils, water, bay leaf, salt, and bouillon cube.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over minimal heat for about an hour. Add the spinach and serve.
My soup tasted quite salty to me, but according to my calculations, I would have needed to add 1.5 times as much salt (plus the bouillon cubes) to equal the 810mg sodium per serving in the Progresso soup.
The fifth ingredient in the Progresso ingredient list is modified corn starch. I didn’t end up adding any corn starch, because the soup seemed plenty thick. As a result, the carbs in my soup end up looking slightly lower than the Progresso soup.
If anyone can do a side-by-side comparison of my version with the real thing, I’d love to hear your feedback!