Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recipes on Monday

How many different ways can you say

Last week, when I read M3's Salsa in China blog about the really cool way to keep the kiddos happy for hours on end when housebound (check it out) and she mentioned she doesn't use lentils to cook with, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the famous (or infamous) bean.

To me, lentils are one of those miracle foods. You can do just about anything with them and they are loaded with all the good stuff. True, lentils have suffered from a poor image to many. From the fear of repeat performances (of the intestinal nature) and the misguided image it has that hours of soaking are required, the poor lentil has been misrepresented.

Well, I for one will set the record straight.
Lentils are simply great!
(above - soup #1 - regular)

(above - soup #2 - oriental)
I usually make a simple lentil soup as a base and add whatever I want. And we have some variety of lentils probably every other day. Sometimes no one even knows we're actually eating lentils as I'll ground them up and put them in other dishes or recipes. I probably use more lentils than most because Danny is quasi vegetarian. (He does eat fish, eggs and dairy - just no meat or poultry.....that he knows of..........ahem..........master pureer here. Hey, he needs the protein....'k?)

The basic recipe comes from my buddy Helen who is Greek (aka they really know what to do with a bean, herb,oil and just about anything else). And I just add a whole bunch of stuff to it. Here is the simple base.
(Note - I don't have the exact measurements so I'm just winging it here.)

Lentil Soup Base
- Brown Lentils (no soaking required) about 1/2 bag
(I sometimes add green or mung beans but the browns break down much faster)
- about 3 cups tomato juice (the acid breaks down the lentil - thus no soaking)
- 2 or 3 cups chicken stock
- chopped leeks, chalots or onions
(you can fry these up or not - it doesn't really matter)
- a few cloves of garlic
- 3 or more bay leaves
3 or more tbsp olive oil
- about a tsp oregano and basil
fresh basil, if you have
Bring everything to a boil and leave it simmer for an hour or two or more. The broth will thicken naturally and you can add more liquid if needed. I refrigerate containers of this and freeze them too and can add anything to it when I need it.
- mixed chopped veggies (all kinds)
- ground beef, pork, soy or chicken
- chopped spinach

So last night I made two pots. One regular and one oriental. We went to the Chinese market yesterday so I had the right stuff.
The coriander and ginger (along with the shallots and garlic) went into pot #2.
The garlic, shallots, basil and spinache into pot #1.

(soup #1)
And here's what I added to pot #2. The oriental soup.

- 2 cups brown lentils
- 1 cup green mung beans
-2 cups tomatoes juice
-2 cups chicken broth
- small can coconut milk (add near the end)
- shallots/ garlic
- about 4 tbsp chopped coriander
- about 1 or 2 or 3 tbsp chopped ginger (to taste - I can eat it raw...mmm love it)
- citronelle (that's that long skinny thing in the second picture,
it's lemony and essential for the taste)
- Kaffir leaves (also essential_ that's lime)
-bamboo shoots (spears)
-straw mushrooms
- baby bok choy
- a bit of red chili pste (if you like a kick)
- a good dollop of sesame oil
- sesame seeds and coriander for garnish

Again, bring it all to a boil and simmer for an hour or two. Add more broth if needed.

(baby bok choy)

(soup #2 - getting yummy looking)

(soup #1 - almost done)

A peek at my spice cupboard.

(there's the spinach)

(added the coconut milk to #2)

These babies look just about ready.

Bon appetite !

Oriental soup

Basic lentil soup

And the ultimate soup testing bowl.

They just lap it up!

Be sure to pop by Colleen's site for more recipe ideas.

And have a great week!


Buckeroomama said...

I love, love, love soup... and yours look great --especially because I see coriander and basil (my two favorite herbs!) as part of the ingredients! I'll have to print this post out for the recipes. :) Thanks for sharing!

Love Letters To China said...

I absolutely adore lentil soup. Growing up in an Italian home, we ate lentils (and still due) very often. My mom's recipe is a little different, but I'd like to try yours. They both look delicious! Thanks for sharing....

BTW, yes I did adjust my photo yesterday with a preset. The ones I'll be posting on Wednesday are all adjusted w/out one. Having too much fun already!

Tracychele @ The Week-Ender said...

Good morning, Wanda! Thanks for the great recipes! I must try them! I made Taco Soup last night, which was more like Taco Chili...even better! I will certainly try these recipes. Have a wonderful day!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Okay, until today I've been in the decidedly non-lentil camp... but I just may have to try that oriental soup. I think you've won me over!

Gail said...

We are big soup lovers here in this house and I love lentils and beans. I'm an almost vegetarian too...
Definitely will be trying this one, Wanda. Thanks for posting this one!

Happy Monday!

Robin said...

Oh wow ... both of these sound good! We love soup!

Thanks - Robin

M3 said...

Ah, bless you!!! Those look fab. Am printing them out this second.

Hannah said...

Those look amazing! I am a lentil lover too :)

Colleen said...

Wow!!!!! ok those look amazing!!! We love lentil in this house...comes from my Italian Grandmother who loved cooking with lentils : )
Your blog always have the best post!!!

Lisa said...

Oh, soup is a staple this time of year! This looks simply delcious!

I may just have to give this a try tonight...I was looking for inspriration and came to right place!! :)

I also have spice cabinet envy now! lol

Donna said...

Yummmm! I know what we're having to dinner now!


Our Blog: Double Happiness!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Hi Wanda!!

I feel like I could copy and paste Grace's commen...... Growing up in an Italian family, I ate lentils all the grandmother and mother always made them and I LOVE THEM!!! Thank you for these recipes...... I cannot wait to try them:)

Hope you had a wonderful day!



Indianalori said...

I love soup. I love lentils. I LOVE Chinese flavors. AWESOME. Thanks for sharing!

Domestic Goddess..Diva sometimes said...

I should make lentil soup and looking at yours, I know I should. :)