Archive for ‘soup’

February 1, 2011

Warm-Your-Bones Lentil Soup

I try to always keep lentils on hand … for days like today.  With the snow that we got last night and the below freezing temperatures that are continuing in the next couple of days, a nice warm soup is the first thing that pops into my mind (after taking pictures of the beautiful snow of course).

This was the first thing I saw when I looked out our window this morning.  Pretty bird.

Leo cat was dying to get outside.  He pranced in the snow for 5 minutes or so, until he couldn’t feel his paws.

I think he would’ve happily stayed out there all day if I hadn’t been calling him back in.

By now, I think you may have noticed that I have a thing for pots and pans, basically all. things. kitchen.  I especially love my Le Creuset Oval French Oven … the colors, oh the colors.  I have my eye on a turquoise braiser – but that won’t be in the Howard kitchen for awhile.  For now, all my love goes to this yellow pot.  It makes me smile.

Back to the lentils.  They really are a super food – not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but they are also ready in around 30 minutes and they make delicious soups.  I had both red and green lentils on hand, so I used both in this recipe.  Feel free to use whatever suits your fancy, and adjust the cooking time accordingly.  I really like mixing in red lentils because they don’t have as hard of a coating as the green lentils and they break down a bit after being cooked, which gives the soup a nice texture.  The splash of red wine vinegar brings a bit of acidity to balance the savory notes of the bacon, onion, and garlic.  Some kale or spinach would be nice in this soup – chopped and thrown in towards the end … but I didn’t have that on hand.  I hope this keeps you warm in these cold days ahead!

:: You will need ::

3 strips bacon, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise & cut into half moons

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 ½ cups lentils, picked over & rinsed

½ tsp. dried thyme

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

:: Let’s get going ::

(1) Put the bacon in a Dutch oven or deep pot on medium heat.

(2) While the bacon is cooking, peel the carrots and chop them.  Add them with the bacon in the pot.  Then, chop the onion and garlic and add it to the pot as well.

(3) Add the tomato paste to the pot and follow it with the water and buillon cubes (or chicken stock).

(4) Season the soup with the dried thyme, salt, and pepper.

(5) Wash and drain the lentils, then add them to the pot.

(6) Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down to medium low.  Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender.  Watch the water level as the soup simmers, you may need to add some.

(7) After the lentils are tender, stir in the red wine vinegar.  Enjoy!


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January 18, 2011

Gumbo for a Rainy Day

There are lots of things to love about soup, especially during this time of year.  The way it warms your insides, the ease of eating it, the endless combination of ingredients, and a great excuse to break out the crockpot.  I love my crockpot.  If you plan ahead of time and get the ingredients in the crockpot in the morning, you can come home to a wonderful meal ready. to. eat.  That’s enough to get my attention.  If you don’t have a crockpot, you should really consider getting one – but this recipe can definitely also be prepared in an on-the-stove pot.  On to the recipe.

:: You will need ::

1 lb. of ground beef (or turkey, for a lighter version)

4-5 medium sized russet potatoes

A handful of baby carrots (or 2 full sized carrots)

1/2 red onion

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 box/can of chicken broth)

8 oz. bag of frozen okra (or 15 fresh okra, chopped)

1 tbsp. garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste

:: Let’s get going ::

(1) Empty the ground meat into a skillet on medium-high heat.  Sauté until browned.

(2) While the meat is browning, peel your potatoes and wash the starch off.  Alternatively, if you want to leave the skins on for more fiber just make to scrub the skins well with a vegetable brush to remove excess dirt.  Chop the potatoes, carrots, and red onions – place them in the crockpot.

(3) After the meat has browned, add it to the crockpot along with the chopped veggies and canned diced tomatoes.  You could use fresh tomatoes here as well, in addition to or in place of the canned tomatoes .. but I think that the canned tomatoes give the gumbo a stronger depth of flavor.

(4) If you are using the bouillon cubes, add 4 cups of water to the crockpot.  If you used canned tomatoes, you can fill up the can twice with water (+ a little extra) to make sure all of the tomatoes emptied out of the can.  However, if you don’t have bouillon cubes – and opted for chicken broth, just dump the chicken broth in at this point. Sprinkle the garlic powder and a good amount of salt and pepper on top of  ingredients and give it a stir before putting the lid on.

(5) If you are using a crockpot, put it on low for 6-8 hours or high for 2-4 hours.  If you are using an on-the-stove pot, turn the stove on to medium high heat for 45 minutes and turn it down to medium low for another hour, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.  Now it is time to add the okra.  Some recipes add the okra with the other veggies at the beginning, but I like to add them at the end to keep some of their structure intact.  You only need to cook them around 10 minutes; they don’t take long.

(6) After the okra is tender, your gumbo is ready! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

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