Chicken lentil soup is a warming soup made with chicken and lentils that are cooked together with various vegetables, spices, and herbs. The ingredients are commonly cooked in a stock or broth to create a rich and nutritious meal. There are many variations of the recipe, with most being made depending on personal preferences. The soup is cooked either in a pot on the stovetop or in a slow cooker until the lentils are fully cooked, which can take several hours. The use of lentils dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, where a variety of recipes utilized the legume as a delicacy.
The basic ingredients in a chicken lentil soup recipe include dried lentils, a variety of vegetables, and boneless, skinless chicken. The most common vegetables used are carrots, celery, and onions. This trio of flavors, also called a mirepoix, can be combined with other vegetables such as tomatoes, garlic, and zucchini. Popular spices and herbs used to make the recipe are those often used in other lentil dishes such as turmeric, cumin, and sage.
Like most legumes, cooking with lentils takes time and preparation. The dried lentils should be rinsed prior to use to remove any dirt and grit. They can be soaked for a couple of hours before adding to the pot; however, for most chicken lentil soup recipes, the lentils are added without pre-soaking. The basic ingredient equivalents for chicken lentil soup are 1 cup (192 grams) dry lentils, about 1 pound (453 grams) chicken pieces, and 5 cups (40 ounces) chicken stock or broth. More liquid is added as the soup continues to cook for approximately one to two hours, or until the lentils are fully cooked.
With the exception of the chicken, the ingredients are those commonly used in a classic lentil soup. Lentil soup, one of many popular vegetarian dishes, is a healthy dish made from either red or green lentils cooked in water or vegetable stock. Non-vegetarian varieties have the addition of meat such as chicken, turkey, or Italian sausage, which is often cooked in chicken stock for additional flavor.
Eating lentils can be dated back more than 10,000 years ago in countries such as Greece and Syria. Apicius, a collection of recipes dating back to the Roman Empire, uses lentils in a variety of ways including soups. While some Ancient Greeks referred to lentils and lentil soup as a delicacy, they were probably unaware of the nutritional benefits of this fiber-rich legume. A 1 cup (198 grams) serving of cooked lentils provides more than 60% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fiber and 37% RDA of iron as of 2011. The nutritional value of chicken lentil soup varies on the type of vegetables added and liquid used for cooking.