Red Lentils are my favorite type of lentil. Earthy and sweet, they tend to break apart when cooked and form an almost porridge like consistency in soups. They are also great at absorbing the flavors of whatever they are cooked in. That’s why using homemade ham stock in this recipe is so critical. What if I don’t have ham stock, you ask? Then don’t make this dish. I don’t cook a ham that many times a year, but whenever I do the bone goes into a pot and three cups of the meat is set aside so that I can have Ham and Red Lentil Soup for the next couple days. You should be able to find red lentils at your local grocery store, but you’ll definitely find them at Whole Foods or other such specialty markets. I always get Bob’s Red Mill Red Lentils, which are definitely the best of the brands I’ve tried.
Legumes generate some controversy within the paleo world, but the knock against them really isn’t justified. The argument that our ancestors didn’t eat legumes is wrong. The lectin argument doesn’t apply because the lectins in legumes are broken down and rendered inactive via proper cooking. And while legumes do contain Phytic Acid, they don’t contain as much as Paleo staples such as spinach or swiss chard. The danger in phytate consumption comes from eating it in excess. Moderate consumption of phytates is perfectly fine.
There is one issue surrounding legumes that doesn’t fall in to the category of Paleo Myth however, and that is the concern over digestibility and gas. This is caused by the carbs found in beans known as Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols (FODMAPs) and explained nicely in this video from Mens Health:
Gas and bloating are obviously good reasons to limit legumes if you are particularly sensitive to FODMAPs, but note that the FODMAP problem with legumes comes mostly from beans. Lentils have a much lower concentration of FODMAPs and many people who have gut issues with beans are fine with lentils. So unless you eat this soup every day (and it is so good you might be tempted!) relax in the knowledge that your meal is as healthy as it is nutritious.