Saturday, October 23, 2010
I'm calling this one Super Soup because it is full of 'super foods' that are loaded with nutrition - lentils, kale, parsley, and carrots to name a few. It also tastes great.
The basis for this soup is lentils, specifically green lentils. Lentils are a legume (bean family) and are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Unlike other dried beans they cook quickly which makes them easier to use - you don't have to plan ahead with soaking time and long cooking time. They are also CHEAP. I paid 79 cents per pound at a regular, run-of-them-mill grocery store. That's the dry weight. After you cook them you have a large quantity of food. Yes, it is possible to feed a family of four for less than one dollar. In this economy, your food budget really can be manageable.
I started this soup by heating a bit of olive oil in the bottom of my soup pot. As much as I love to cook, I hate to clean up, so most of the time, I'll make everything in one pot. That mean everything that needs to be sauted, browned, or caramelized goes in first.
I peeled and chopped 4 cloves of garlic and 2 onions, threw them in the hot oil and stirred them around. I chopped up a bunch of celery, including the leaves and threw that in too. This is locally grown, organic celery from my CSA, which doesn't have very much resemblance at all to grocery store celery. Actually, I find it too strong from my taste to eat raw, so this soup is a good excuse to use it up. Finally I trimmed and chopped up 4 carrots and threw them in too. I gave it a good stir from time to time as these aromatic veggies cooked and their flavors blended.
I rinsed 2 lb of dried green lentils with cool water and stirred them around with my hand to wash them. Sometimes you'll find a bit of debris in dried beans so its good to look them over as you rinse. They went into the pot with enough water to cover a couple of inches over the top. If you had a nice stock on hand, you could use that instead of plain water for extra flavor.
To season this soup, I added a healthy squirt of Bragg Liquid Aminos, black pepper, and a healthy Tbs of Italian Seasoning blend of culinary herbs (Garlic, Basil, Fennel, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme) from the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village.
Some people get Shakers and Quakers mixed up. Shakers were a communal religious order that had its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries. They lived and worked together, lived celibate lives and are famous now for the furniture they made and some of the songs they wrote (Simple Gifts is one). As I once heard a middle school Friend (Quaker) in Florida explain, "Shakers had better furniture but they didn't have sex, so there aren't very many of them left." Sadly, there are only 3 left and they live at Sabbathday Lake in Maine.
I was about to declare the soup finished when I got a call from a neighbor who had a surplus of produce and was offering it to me. I came home with a bundle of parsley and kale which I knew would go perfectly in this soup. So while the lentils were cooking, I chopped up the parsley and tore the kale up with my hands, rinsed them both and threw them into the pot. YUM.
This soup is turning out really thick, like a condensed soup, which is ideal for sharing with members of my meeting. When I fill their containers tomorrow, I'll tell them to add some water or stock when they heat it up.