Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Homemade Lentil Soup. Store-bought cookies.

A comment on yesterday's blog post inspired today's dinner. Please, keep sharing your comments!

Art had a meeting at work and was not home for dinner, so I kept the meal simple and made soup.

While Jacob ate his lunch, I made some chicken broth to use in the soup. Making chicken broth is quick, it saves money, and it is a good way to control the sodium content of dishes that require its use. It can be made in large quantities and frozen.

I used the bones I froze from the chicken I cooked last week for Chicken Enchiladas. Along with the chicken bones, I used the following:
10 cups water
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
1 onion, peeled and quartered
the tops of 1 bunch of celery (I break off the top part of each celery stalk)
1 bay leaf
1 small piece of ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

I boiled all of these in a pot for about 20 or 30 minutes. I drained the broth and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the soup.

Before dinner, I cooked 2 cups of dry, rinsed lentils along with a generous pinch of salt and a piece of bacon according to the package directions. I drained the lentils, discarded the bacon (Art was horrified to hear of this step), and added them to the soup.

Cooking Tip: Always drain home-cooked beans from the soaking liquid (or, in the case of lentils which do not require soaking, the cooking liquid). The liquid absorbs a lot of the oligosaccharides (simple sugars that cause gas because they are hard to digest) contained in beans.

My version of Lentil Soup was thick and enjoyable. Something about the creamy texture of the warm soup was very satisfying. The bacon cooked with the lentils imparted a slightly smoky flavor.
Jacob ate about five bites and was done. I'm blaming that on the largest snack in history, which he ate about one hour before dinner. Surely he liked the Lentil Soup. Surely. I will see how he likes the leftovers tomorrow.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 1/2 cups chicken broth (add more broth if you prefer a less thick soup)
2 cups lentils, cooked and drained
1 cup brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Saute onion, carrot, and celery for about 8 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients except for the spinach. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle about 1/4 of the soup into a blender. Remove the center plug from the blender cap. Place cap on blender and cover with a folded kitchen towel. Puree soup on low until smooth- if soup is too thick, add water by Tablespoonfuls until the desired consistency is reached. Stir pureed soup back into soup in the pot. Season to taste.

Now, to the part about cookies: I bought a box of Kashi Oatmeal Raisin Flax cookies at the store today. They are REALLY good! I have eaten three of the eight cookies in the box. Two of them I ate with some ice cream in the form of a ice cream cookie sandwich.

My goal is to recreate these cookies at home. Maybe I will make enough to share with my family before I eat them all.

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