By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

Winter has finally arrived, and with it the snow and the cold — and the craziness of the holidays. So I thought today I would share with you one of my favorite quick, easy and nutritious meals: Lentil Soup. Perfect for dinner (or lunch) or a snack. And for runners, it provides us with some really good stuff in the nutrition department. Chock full of veggies and boosted with a few of my favorites, you can make a big batch and eat some now … or freeze some for later.

Here are some of the nutritional boosts in the soup:

Lentils are one of those powerhouse foods for athletes. They are easy to digest and packed with protein, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin B6, and complex carbs. These nutrients promote muscle recovery and boost your immunity. The high fiber in lentils provides long lasting energy, which means you won’t get “rungry” so soon. 

Tomatoes are also a great source of many vitamins and minerals that are helpful to runners, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. They are also a great source of potassium (think electrolytes) and lycopene (an anti-oxidant that reduces inflammation.)

Spinach is a runner’s best friend. It provides vitamin A, C, E, K as well as manganese, folic acid, fiber, iron, fiber.

It’s also got carrots, celery, onions and garlic. All those veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. And of course great taste!

And lastly, coconut milk tastes yummy and gives you some good healthy fats.

Give my recipe a try. And feel free to get creative and add more vegetables if you like, or add some cayenne pepper or hot sauce if you like it spicy. You can also stir in some cooked grains like quinoa or rice to really bulk it up. Got a favorite soup recipe? I’d love to know what it is.

unnamed-146Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups diced onion

1 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk (preferably full fat)

1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained

4 cups vegetable broth

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach (or kale)

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste

In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic and sauté over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion softens. Then add carrots and celery and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander until combined. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until spices smell fragrant.

Add the diced tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils and broth. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.

Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Add the lime juice to taste. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com 

Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here »  She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »


Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »

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