Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lentil Kale Soup

Do you have a bag of lentils in your cupboard because you know they are healthy and feel that you should be eating them?
Has that aforementioned bag of lentils been in there ...oooooh, for more that a year or two?
Don't worry; you can still use them!!

Lentils are a legume that are easy to cook - no soaking required - and they cook up in less than 30 minutes! They are packed with nutrition: folic acid, protein, fiber..., they are inexpensive, versatile, essentially non-perishable,... but from my own informal field research, not commonly used by Nova Scotians.

Sometimes I feel that it is my life purpose to turn Nova Scotians onto legumes.
If I could make a living doing just that,  I would accept the job in a minute.  Imagine the job title: Bean Queen, Queen Bean, or Lady Fartsalot - hmmmm-not exactly the title I've been dreaming about.

In actuality it is part of my job already - doing quickie cooking sessions with clients in their homes - the recipes usually star a bean or lentils.
The other day a new client called me and said that she had a bag of lentils in the cupboard for over a year now,  and would love to know how to use them. I could feel my pulse quicken, my breath become shallow and a surge of adrenaline. Is it normal to become this excited about cooking lentils with someone??

This soup follows the straightforward soup formula of sauteing aromatics such as onion, and garlic in a little oil, adding vegetables, then adding a protein and/or a starch source.Simmer, taste, adjust seasonings. You can use almost any vegetables you have on hand. I really liked the Kale in this soup.
Regarding amounts of water to lentils - for this soup use a ratio of 4:1 - i.e. 4 cups water or broth to 1 cup lentils. You may need to add more water or broth to make it less thick.

Lentil Kale Soup

olive oil
onion, diced
garlic, minced
celery, diced
carrots, diced
herbes de provence - or other dried herb combinations: rosemary, oregano, etc.
water or broth
rinsed dried lentils: I used French Puy - you can use red, green or brown lentils
tomato paste (note in photo there is crushed tomatoes - I used leftover tomato paste in the fridge instead)
Kale: rinsed, tough ribs cut off and cut into pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, garlic and celery, saute for a few minutes. Add the diced carrot, herbs and saute for a few minutes. Add water and the rinsed lentils, stir and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until the lentils are tender - about 25 minutes. Add more water or broth to reach desired consistency.
Add the tomato paste and kale and cook for another few minutes.
Season with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Bella says:" Of all of the Mommies in the world, I had to end up with a lentil loving dietitian!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Cozy with Curry!


If cozy was a taste, this would be it! This curry/ ginger dish warms you from the inside out. In fact, small beads of perspiration always form on MIke's forehead when he eats this to watch, unless you are out at a fine indian restaurant.

As usual, I am offering more of a formula than a recipe can substitute, add, adjust, or omit. Just remember to start with the aromatics: onion, garlic, spices, then add the harder vegetables such as carrots, potato, squash.  Add quick cooking vegetables near the end: cauliflower, peas, broccoli.
When we understand the formula of a dish, we can cook from our memory, intuition and senses. 

a glug of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 or more cloves of garlic
knob of fresh ginger
curry powder or curry paste, to taste
carrots, peeled and sliced
sweet potato, peeled and diced
vegetable broth or hot water
cauliflower, cut into flowerets
canned coconut milk
chickpeas - cooked or canned, rinsed
frozen green peas
pinch or two of salt


Add a glug of olive oil to a large, heavy pot over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes
Grate about an inch of peeled, fresh ginger into the pot (you can keep a knob of fresh ginger in the freezer and just peel and grate it as you need it!).
Add the curry powder or paste (if some family members like it mild and others like it hot - just add enough for the mild bunch and you can add more at the end of the recipe after you have removed the mild portion.) As far as how much curry? Add a tbsp - taste then add some more. Remember, you can always add some more, but you can't take some out!

(At this point you can transfer it to a slow cooker, or keep cooking on the stovetop.)

Add the carrot and sweet potato and just enough broth to almost cover the vegetables. Cook until they are almost soft.
Add the cauliflower and enough coconut milk to make it look like a stew....but not a soup.
Add chickpeas, peas and raisins.

Season with salt, taste...season.
You may want to add some more raisins on top.
Chutney is nice on the side...yummmm!

Serve on rice - Jasmine Rice is nice!

The boys love when I take photos of them for this blog!
Lauchlin put extra raisins on top of his curry.

Bella says : "I refuse to enter this house unless there is meat cooking on that stove!"
Its going to be a cold night Bella!