Mexican Lentil Soup

The mushrooms in this soup aren't noticeable but offer a savory taste that sets it apart.  I like using two different sizes of colored (not brownish grey) lentils so that the smaller ones break down and give more body and fullness to the broth, while the larger lentils remain intact.  Lentils are so small (compared to beans) that they cook quickly and are hardly noticeable, while still adding significant nutrition.  Red and yellow lentils are much cheaper to buy at ethnic food stores.  Make the soup spicier by adding hot salsa or chili peppers.  If your kids don't like big tomato chunks, add Muir Glen Crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes instead.  Don't skip the avocados: they add nutrition and taste.  Enjoy! Read more about the nutrition benefits of mushrooms
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Ingredients

1 onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp olive oil 8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, diced small 2 tbsp tomato paste (optional) 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 1 cup red or yellow lentils (or some of each kind) 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces 1 15oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, diced or 2 cups prepared salsa salt, pepper and chili peppers to taste avocado, diced and added to individual bowls just prior to serving cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

Directions

1) Using a large pan, sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms in olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add tomato paste and cook for another two minutes while stirring.
2) Add stock and lentils. Simmer with the lid on for an hour and a half or until lentils are tender.
3) Add carrots and tomatoes or salsa and salt and pepper to taste.
4) Add avocado to individual bowls just prior to serving and top soup with shredded cheese if desired (optional).