The International Year of Pulses

The International Year of Pulses

The United Nations has declared that 2016 will be the International Year of Pulses in order “to raise awareness about the protein power and health benefits of all kinds of dried beans and peas, boost their production and trade, and encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.”

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has a great website with information about everything you ever wanted to know about pulses, which are are a subgroup of legumes. (The term”legume” applies to the whole plant, whereas “pulses” are the dried seeds of legumes – such as dried beans, peas, and lentils.)

To celebrate the IY of Pulses, here is a garlicky lentil soup recipe which can be adapted in many ways.  It may be thickened a bit more with less liquid and more vegetables, to use as a stew or over rice.

Lentil Garlic Soup

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients: (all measurements approximate, adjust “to taste”)

  • 1 or 2 large shallots, diced
  • Several cloves of fresh garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 stalks of fresh celery, diced
  • 2 fresh carrots, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of thyme and / or oregano
  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (organic, extra virgin)*
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • about 5 cups vegetable broth or water
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Paprika or Pimenton
  • Optional: sea salt or umeboshi plum vinegar to taste
  • Optional: ½ cup dry sherry, Manzanillo, or Marsala wine
  • Optional: fresh or dried lemon peel
  • Optional: Chopped tomatoes to taste


Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots / onion, carrot, and celery; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add half of chopped garlic; stir for a few more minutes. Add herbs, and stir more.  If using sherry add now.  After stirring again for a few minutes, add lentils, liquid, bring almost to a boil, then turn low and simmer for a while to blend flavors.  Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions, and a squeeze of lemon.

*Note: For folks on a whole-foods-plant-based diet who wish to consume no oil, water or broth may be substituted for the initial saute of the onion, garlic, and herbs.