By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Kikkoman and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
This may look like a simple bowl of stewy lentils and vegetables, but let me assure you, it’s a flavor-packed bowl of umami goodness. And it’s all thanks to a condiment I’m 99.9% sure you already have on hand – Kikkoman soy sauce.
Let’s back up. I’m somewhat of a condiment hoarder. Scratch that. I am a condiment hoarder. I think if you’ve opened your refrigerator only to be knocked out by a flying bottle of ketchup, you can claim that status. Look in my refrigerator and you will find four different types jam (two savory, two sweet), three types of mustard, six types of barbecue sauce, three hot sauces, every Asian condiment known to made (oyster sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce…you get it) along with harissa, tahini, chowchow, and olive tapenade, among others. But if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s that I splurge on the good stuff. Condiments = flavor in cooking and that’s one area you don’t want to skimp on.
That’s why I always purchase high quality traditionally brewed soy sauce, like Kikkoman. Some soy sauces are made with processed soy proteins, but Kikkoman has been making their soy sauce the traditional way for over 300 years, by fermenting soybeans and wheat with salt and water. The liquid mixture is then aged several months to help develop it’s rich flavor.
When most people think of soy sauce, they think salty, when actually, soy sauce is a helpful way to cut back on salt. Because it adds a ton of umami flavor along with it’s sodium content, you can easily cut back total sodium content of your dish when using it for flavoring. In fact, studies have found that swapping soy sauce for equal parts salt reduces sodium content by 50% without reducing consumer acceptance. For those who are even more concerned about sodium content for health reasons, Kikkoman also has a line of less sodium products including soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and tamari.
This bowl of creamy lentils and roasted broccolini shows off the other thing I love about soy sauce, how you can use it for dishes that aren’t even remotely Asian in inspiration. It uses a little soy sauce and aromatic vegetables as it’s main flavoring ingredients. Sauteeing veggies in olive oil creates little flavor packed browned bits that get stuck to the bottom of the pan. I added soy sauce to deglaze, which essentially sops up that flavorful goodness and helps it incorporate into the rest of the dish. Other than the little bit of salt I used to season the roasted broccolini, the salt from the soy sauce and low sodium vegetable broth was perfect for me. To use soy sauce in unique ways, try adding a little to build depth of flavor in marinades, tomato based sauces, cooked whole grains, or try other cuisines that use soy sauce heavily, like some Hawaiian, Peruvian or Jamaican dishes.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 1½ tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce
- 1 cup green lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- ¾ cup full fat canned coconut milk
- ½ lb baby broccolini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium pot on medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until vegetables are tender and golden, another 7-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss broccolini with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Space evenly on a large baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, flipping halfway, until tender and golden.
- Add soy sauce to pot, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot with a spatula. Stir in lentils, broth, bay leaf, thyme, and season with black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils are tender. If lentils are looking a little dry and still taste raw, add another ½ cup water or broth and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
- When lentils are tender and have very little liquid, add coconut milk. Simmer 5 minutes until thickened. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
- Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves and discard. Divide lentils between four bowls. Top with broccolini and serve drizzled with olive oil.