Red Lentil, Carrot, and Tomato Soup (Vegan + Gluten Free)

A tasty and nutritious blend of vegetables and lentils makes this soup healthy, delicious, and protein-packed. Perfect for serving alongside healthy multigrain crackers, or with a fluffy slice of fresh bread for dipping!

There is a sandwich restaurant in Charlottesville that is loved and cherished by all UVA students.

Well, actually, there are many of those - but I'm not talking about Littlejohn's, or Jimmy John's, or Bellair, or the sandwich station in O'Hill dining hall boasting a bevy of mildly questionable options to choose from.

I am talking, of course, about Take It Away! Located just steps from the Rotunda and boasting not one but two patios for sunny days, Take It Away was a staple of my college career. Everyone had their go-to order (Pastrami turkey, sprouts, cucumber, and havarti on sourdough with spicy mustard, anyone?); EVERYONE had spent a day lazing in the sun with nothing but a pint of their secret house dressing and a 25-cent bag of bread ends - but few people could say they had tried their soup!

Their SOUP, though, was phenomenal. Whether you were slurping down the corn chowder, the tequila lime chicken, the tomato, or any of their other varietals, you would NOT be disappointed. Especially paired with a couple bread ends and a side of house dressing? Unbeatable.

When I was making this soup, I couldn't help but reminisce on my Take It Away tomato soup of yore, and dream of bread ends and house. So, I dragged my booty to Whole Foods and grabber a fresh loaf of sourdough for dipping. You really can't beat it!

Especially now that it's summertime (or that's what the 90-degree temps in DC are telling me), clean eating is top of my mind. This soup makes a healthy lunch or dinner (or breakfast!) that can be made ahead of time. Nourish your soul, your body, and your nostalgia, all in one!

Red Lentil, Carrot, and Tomato Soup

To make this soup, you will need:
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 T thyme, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 leek (white part only), diced
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 tomato, blanched (instructions below)
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup light coconut milk (I used Silk almond-coconut blend)
- Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating a large pot over medium. Add your olive oil, then add your onion and saute until translucent.

While your onion is cooking, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Score an 'X' in the base of the tomato, then add it to the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop immediately into a bowl of ice water. Remove after 1-2 minutes and remove the skin (it should come off easily). Quarter the tomato, remove the seeds, and then dice into small chunks. Set aside.

Add your thyme, garlic, and leek, and saute for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomato, carrots, tomato paste, lentils, and water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer 20-25 minutes, until carrots and lentils are tender. Remove from heat.

Using a blender or an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth and no large chunks remain. Add the coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste, along with any other seasonings you'd like (turmeric and red pepper flakes for this heat-loving girl!), then serve!

Mmm, soup. Whoever said you couldn't eat soup in summer was mentally unstable.