Lentil soup from Taste magazine

pantry-de puy lentils cropped IMG_1115

We all know that I’ve got a “thing” for lentil soups. Here’s the latest recipe added to my collection:  Lentil Soup with Sausage and Fennel.

(I’ve become a serious fan of Taste magazine, especially the cookbook recommendations and the great deals on ebooks.)

My pantry always contains Le Puy lentils; they are for anything made with lentils. This hearty soup is great in cold weather. But, now it’s starting to get warmer here, so it will soon be time to switch to lentil salads. The sausage doesn’t suggest a salad, but I think the fennel and lentils have possibilities for a salad–add some cheese…

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Mujadara

One of my favorite things is a combination of rice and beans–or lentils. The top of my list of comfort food (even higher than mac ‘n’ cheese) is mujadara–rice and lentils, and onions. (I discovered that if you want to find this in a Lebanese cookbook you should look for m’jadara, but then, I was not even sure what the dish was called so I didn’t even get close.) Now that I know what I’m looking for, it’s much easier to look in the index!

I’ve found lots of recipes online:

I’m sure that this is one of the dishes that every cook has their own recipe, so I was looking at how it was seasoned. There was an amazing range: from salt, pepper, and onions to versions including cumin, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne. Some included lemon juice or zest.

Since I’ve become the proud owner of an Instant Pot (IP for short), I have been experimenting with things like dried beans, rice, and all sorts of meat dishes. I’m convinced that the IP is going to be a good replacement for my Krups multifunction pot.

I had been exposed to pressure cooking ages ago, and by a cooking style that produced everything drab olive green, and by first-generation pressure cookers. So I never really bothered. Now I’m convinced that I have been missing a good thing. So, enter the IP.

I started with the simplest version of mujadara that I could find. My perusal of recipes led me to the conclusion that rice and lentils were used in almost equal quantities. Since I’m a single-serving cook, I want smaller quantities than any recipe that I’ve seen.

For my first test, I didn’t do the crispy onions–I just put some chopped onions in with the rice and lentils. Since I’ve been reading The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook by Coco Morante, and everything I’ve followed her instructions for has worked so well, I decided to follow my “gut” about how much water to use to cook this in the IP, and knowing that onions would release a bunch of water, I used just slightly less than the volume of the rice and the lentils.

My Mujadara

For two servings:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup lentils de Puy
  • a good three-fingered pinch of kosher (Morten) salt.
  • black pepper
  • a dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • scant 1/2 cup water

Preparation

  • All ingredients into the Instant Pot
  • Add water
  • Multigrain setting

Yes, all of it all at once into the IP, without rinsing the rice, in a 7-cup Pyrex bowl for the pot-in-pot cooking method.

From what I learned from the cookbook, I used the “multigrain” setting–for the programmed time–40 minutes. I should have reduced the time just a bit to leave

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I should have reduced the time just a bit to leave a bit more “tooth” to the rice and to the lentils–I suspect 30 minutes will work fine. Even though all the recipes I’ve found say NOT to use the French lentils, I like them–and they were what I have in the house for general use. So, that’s my version.

For a first run, I’m was a happy camper. The second time around,  the multigrain time set for  30 minutes.   I added the seasonings in from the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, except that I was out of coriander. To try to pick up something of the same flavor, I added sumac. However, without any extra seasonings, it was a good side to go with my rotisserie chicken (brought home from the grocery store because I’m eyeball-deep in indexing) and not spending a lot of time cooking.

The second batch, with shorter cook time and more seasonings, was better consistency, but I really like the very plain dish for flavor although I’m sure it will depend on what’s being served with it.

A son gôut!

Smoky, spicy red lentil soup (Always Hungry?)

Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro

This is one of those “recipes” that really isn’t. Kitchen Express doesn’t give you a list of ingredients–it gives you a paragraph description of what to do–a happening. I don’t always have red lentils, so I’ve made this with De Puy lentils; it simply takes a little longer to cook. This is the “light, bright” lentil soup that I make in warm or hot weather.

The soup below started as the Red Lentil Soup (pages 283-284) in Always Hungry?  However, true to form for me, it evolved–still keeping the spirit of the meal plan. So here’s my version of a seemed to be rather a bland lentil soup when previewed on the page. It evolved on a dreary, rainy, chilly day in May that felt more like regression to March. It’s only mildly spicy and garlicky–you could increase the chipotle powder or add a dash of cayenne.

Serves 4 with big bowls, or 6 with small bowls. Add some meat (lamb would be good) and it’s a meal in a bowl.

Smoky, Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for cooking)
  • Chopped onion–about 1 to 1-1/2 cups
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes [fire-roasted are really good in this.]
  • 32 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 or 3 large cloves of garlic minced or pressed (or more according to taste)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of herbs de Provence
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (hot)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • one 8-ounce package of frozen chopped kale
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling as a tasty garnish

Preparation

  • Heat the cooking olive oil in a good-sized pan and sauté the onions until beginning to brown.
  • Add the carrots and celery and sauté until starting to brown.
  • Add the pimentón, chipotle chilli powder, red pepper flakes, and garlic; sauté until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and 2 cups water.
  • Add the herbes de Provence
  • Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are almost tender. [I moved it to the oven to finish cooking so I could work without worrying about checking it.]
  • Stir in the chopped kale and continue cooking until the lentils are tender.
  • Serve it up and drizzle with a bit of aromatic extra-virgin olive oil.

clear glass bowl with lentil soup

#LovePulses and take the pledge

Another informative post on an underutilized and versatile food source. Even if you don’t wish to take the pledge, please read! Look at the nutrition data. If you cook your own, the preparation  may take planning and time but it’s not labor intensive. Canned beans are an option to help use this food group.

one taste at a time

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the year of Pulses, which are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) officially recognizes 11 specific types of pulses, but they can generally be encompassed in 4 groups: dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Referred to as “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future,” these superfoods pack an impressive nutritional punch. Not only are they loaded with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, but they’re also cholesterol, sodium, and gluten-free.

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Lentil, cabbage, and bacono salad

I’m on about under-appreciated vegetables this evening. I just reblogged a post on beet soup so now it’s on to cabbage (which I think is also under-appreciated–just relegated to “slaw” which is often just horrible). This is a great modification of this recipe. Thanks!

Al dente adjustment to a Jacques Pépin lentil, cabbage and bacon salad

Now there is chicken soup….

Since I cooked a whole chicken for Christmas dinner (chicken-in-a-pot), I have cold chicken for sandwiches and salad, and I’m getting another two meals from that same bird from what meat left on the carcass.

Rather than spend lots of time picking bits of meat off the carcass when I needed to be indexing, I popped it into a very low oven (I guess I could have used the rice-cooker/slow-cooker) overnight, since I don’t mind having the oven on in chilly weather to help warm the place up; it reduces other heating.  This morning, what meat was left simply fell off the bones.

The chicken-in-a-pot made some serious broth, some of which went with Christmas  chicken au jus. There were onions and garlic in the pot with the chicken that the recipe called for discarding after straining the broth.  They actually tasted good so I put them back in with the carcass.  I added lentils and barley to that broth, both of which cook in about 30 minutes, some aleppo pepper and a few red chilli flakes, seasoned to taste with sea salt, for a very hearty chicken soup for supper–all with very little effort on my part. (And there another serving of that which is going in the freezer for another chilly day.)

Though this was a pricey chicken, I can’t complain–the flavor was worth it, and I’ve had enough additional meals that tasted so good to make it not such an extravagance as it seemed at first.

Lentil & couscous salad with cherry tomatoes, mint and goat cheese

As you can tell, I like lentils!  And tomatoes.

It’s getting to the kind of weather where I begin to think about “salads” for hot-weather meals.   I know it’s a bit early for this since tomatoes not  ready to pick yet.  While I was writing about lentils, shortly after planting some tomato seeds (Black Krim, Japanese Black Trifle, Black Pearl, Brandywine, Indigo…..) I couldn’t help but think of this salad with some anticipation as I planted the Black Pearl cherry tomato seeds.

Lentil & Couscous Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Mint and Goat Cheese

This is my adaptation of the recipe from Gourmet 1995, retrieved from Gourmet on Epicurious with a few changes from me.  (This is a great place to browse for salad inspirations.  You don’t need to follow the recipes–just look at the ingredients and make a salad.)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentilles du Puy (French green lentils) or brown lentils (or any small lentil that will hold its shape well)
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar  (The original recipe calls for white wine vinegar–but I prefer sherry; use what you have at hand.)
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves (spearmint, rather than peppermint)
  • 1 bunch arugula, stems discarded and leaves washed well, spun dry, and chopped
  • 2 cups vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved.
  • 1/4 pound feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)

Preparation

  • Cook the lentils in a small pan, covered by about 2 inches of water until tender but not getting mushy.  The lentilles du Puy cook more slowly than other varieties, so if you substitute, watch them carefully to keep from over-cooking them.  My preference is for the french, Spanish brown, or black lentils instead of the brown.
  • When tender, drain well and transfer to a bowl.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Prepare the couscous:  bring water to a boil and couscous and salt (use the package directions).  Remove from heat and let stand until the water is absorbed.  Fluff and transfer to a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil and cool.
  • Dressing:  Whisk together the garlic paste, remaining vinegar (to taste), and oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the lentils and dressing to the couscous and mix well. Chill well–about 2 or 3 hours.
  • Before serving, add the crumbled goat cheese and the mint leaves.

One problem I’ve found is that the cherry tomatoes can give off a lot of liquid and make this salad too juicy.  I like to toss the halved cherry tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and let them stand in a colander for about 15 or 20 minutes before I add them  to avoid the excess juice.  This doesn’t make them “salty”–but do taste before you add the last salt to taste.  This will hold well in the fridge for about 24 hours if you’ve  gotten some of the excess liquid from the cherry tomatoes.

My favorite garnish for this is crispy slices of European style cucumbers and crispy, crunchy radishes on the side as well.