Thursday, November 5, 2009

Legumes+broth+grain=cheap soup for dinner!

--from the musings of the soup-loving suburban greenmom...

I love soup. So nice and Autumn-y. So warming.

Made a new one, curried lentil soup, the other night, and it was LOVELY. Typical made-up recipe, as most of my soups are. I wanted something healthy, easy, and which would use some of that lovely jar of Penzey's hot curry powder I've had on my spice rack since last summer.

--Brown lightly in a little olive oil: 1-2 onions (chopped), 1 celery heart (chopped), 1-3 carrots (cut up), 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1-2 tsp really good curry powder
--Pour in 1 quart broth (chicken or vegetable) and heat just to boil
--Add 1/3 cup green lentils and 1/3 cup brown basmati rice (rinsed and picked), heat again just to boil (you could use almost any kind of lentils, actually, but the tiny red and black ones cook really fast and give more of a mushy-saucy consistency.)
--Reduce to low simmer; cover and cook 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (For me "occasionally" means "whenever I think of it in between settling sibling domestic disputes, starting another load of laundry, and doing the dishes.") Add a little water near the end if it's getting too thick.
--Pour in 1 can diced tomatoes with juice, or a couple cups of the tomatoes you canned from summer because you were more on top of things than I was, and another 1/2 tsp curry powder; stir well and let simmer a few more minutes.
--If you want, a couple handfuls of chopped spinach added at the end is also great.
(You could add all kinds of things to this soup, whatever veggies might happen to be in the fridge...)

Serve with naan or homemade artisan bread.

This soup was good the first night, spectacular the second.

I swear, I LIVE by broth and diced tomatoes. Those two ingredients in a pot, with just about any variety of veggies, a grain, and various spices and condiments, can make almost anything. Lentils, rice, and curry powder--it's something vaguely Indian. Cannellini beans, pasta, and half a jar of spaghetti sauce (plus various Italian spices), it's pasta fazool. Black beans and onions with lots of garlic and cumin, it's black bean soup or can be served over rice. Add more veggies to the above and a jar of salsa, serve over crunched up tortilla chips, it's tortilla soup. Endless variations, and as long as I have broth and diced tomatoes in my cupboard, I can make almost anything in about 45 low maintenance minutes. It's odd; while I try as much as I can to stay away from pre-prepared, processed convenience stuff like salsa and pasta sauce, in a pinch a small amount added to something I'm making gives almost anything a "cooked longer and seasoned better than I actually did" quality that I think is worth the sacrifice...:-) Sigh.

If someone had given me this formula when I was in graduate school and occasionally subsisting on peanut butter straight from the jar because the assistantship check wouldn't come for two more days, I would have eaten a lot better. (In fact, I hope Camille, the college student over at EatDrinkBetter who's working on upgrading her tragic but typical college diet to stuff that's healthier and more sustainable--stops by and reads this. She's awesome, by the way--if any Booth readers know college students, I'd highly recommend her posts!) Even if one doesn't make one's own stock or can tomatoes, just getting a can each of soup and tomatoes, a bag of lentils, and a bag of brown rice, gives the template for a cheaper and healthier soup than one could ever find in a red and white labelled can, you know?

Soup. Good stuff.
--Jenn the Greenmom


Green Bean said...

Great standard vegetarian recipe! I love things like that where you can play around and throw in what you've got and the taste varies with the season and the pantry.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

You even make recipes funny!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin