Tag Archives: soup

Red Lentil Veggie Soup

Last week Earthfare, had a 20% off coupon for all bulk items, so I used this opportunity to buy a bunch of stuff I’ve never bought before.  Fun fun!  One of these was red lentils, which I planned to use in a soup.  I’ve been on a soup kick lately.  It’s just so easy to make and then separate into individual containers for lunch.  Plus my office is super cold all year long, so it’s never too warm for soup, no matter what the season.

So red lentil soup was born, with a bit of inspiration from 101 Cookbooks, my go-to for inspiration.  Being true to my cooking style, all of these ingredients are guestimates seeing how I don’t typically measure when I’m making stuff up and not baking.

1 cup dried red lentils

6 cups stock (I used leftovers which include 2 cups veggie and 4 cups beef)

1 package frozen vegetables (mine included corn, carrots, green beans, and peas)

1/2 mas grande white onion chopped

1 whole shallot chopped finely

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1 tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 tbsp. olive oil

Saute onion and shallot in olive oil until softened and beginning to brown.  Meanwhile bring stock to a simmer.  Once onion and shallot are done, transfer to pot of stock.  Add the rest of the ingredients: lentils, veggies, herbs and seasonings.  Allow to simmer until rice and lentils are soft and soup has reached it’s desired consistency.  This took about 20-30 minutes for mine although I wasn’t timing it really.

I use the term “soup” loosely, because my soups always turn out super thick, more like a “stoup” as Rachel Ray would say.  I love them super thick.  I can eat most of my soups by scooping them up with a cracker because they are so wonderfully thick.

Eaten here in a orange plastic bowl, circa 1970 something from my grandmother’s house.  I borrowed this bowl back in college from my grandmother who would probably take a hit out on me if knew I had it.  She’s very protective of her plastic ware, which in the South we call “Tupperware”, no matter the brand.  At least, I think that’s a southern thing…kind of like how some people here call every carbonated drink “Coke” regardless of the actual brand or type of soda.  🙂

I topped it with a large dollop of plain yogurt and accompanied it with a herb salad mixed topped with avocado and a orange-lemon vinaigrette I made a week or so ago.  It’s basically equal parts orange juice and lemon juice (~1/8 cup), 1 tsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, which gives it a pretty peach colored hue. Also eaten were several Mary’s Gone Crackers, which I tried out for the first time this week and really like.  I bought the original flavor and their very crispy and nutty.

This soup is so yummy.  I have taken it to work for lunch for the past several days and always get questions about what I’m heating up in the microwave and comments that it smells delicious.

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Finally split pea soup

I totally fell in love with split pea soup this winter and have been meaning to make it ever since my first can.  Trader Joe’s Organic Split Pea Soup, is the only kind I’ve ever had, but it is yummeeeee.  Plus the ingredient list is pretty basic, which isn’t typical of most canned soups.   The reason why I hadn’t made it thus far, is because I really had no idea where to get split peas or what they looked like.  I really thought they would be sold fresh, but that was obviously not the case.  You actually buy them dried, like beans.

While taking a leisurely stroll one afternoon (that actually turned into a six-mile hike to the Dilworth neighborhood and back), Brad and I stopped at Berry Brook Farms, which is actually not a farm at all but what looks a slat log house in the middle of urban Charlotte.  It is actually a pretty cool, dare I say granola, natural grocery/specialty store.  They also carry vitamins, supplements, and beauty products.  I have always wanted to go inside and have a look around, so I left Brad and the Rascal on the porch, sitting on their porch swing, and went inside.  When I found my way back to their dry good bins and saw the split peas, I knew homemade split pea soup was in my future.   Even though I’ve only ever had the green split peas, for some reason I decided on the yellow.

The recipe I made up based on what I had on hand and several recipes I perused is below.

1.2 lbs dry yellow split peas (rinsed)

7 cups vegetable stock

2 carrots roughly chopped

3 celery stalks roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic minced

1 large white onion diced roughly chopped (I actually had 2 halves of a medium and a really small one, leftovers from other cooking excursions, but you get the drift)

2 bay leaves

Salt and Pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. grape seed oil

Saute carrots, onion, garlic, and celery in grape seed oil, until onion and garlic are starting to brown.  Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil.  Add split peas and lower heat to simmer.  Add vegetables and herbs.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes or so.    Transfer mixture to food processor (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.

Serve with crackers (these are Kashi TLC) and a dollop of plain or Greek yogurt.

This soup was very thick, which I loved.  It got even thicker when I refrigerated it, so if you prefer a thinner soup, you might want to keep some extra vegetable stock on hand to thin it out when you reheat it.

I loved it and I won’t be going back to canned.  It got the fiance seal of approval too, so this will be a recurring meal.  I might even like it almost as my favorite  Ellie’s  nutty sweet potato soup, which is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.  🙂

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Stewing and Struggling

This weekend I did something kind of stupid.  I agreed to run a 5K the day after giving blood.  I thought it would be easy for me seeing how I run much farther than 3.1 miles on a regular basis.  I think I underestimated the toll it takes on your body when you give blood, especially when you’re super short like me.  The 5K was the training run for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and included obstacles, trail running, stair running, and the beastiest hill I’ve seen in a long time.

Here is a picture of me WALKING during the race.  I have never walked during a race before.  But by the time I got to the beasty hill and ran half way up it (after the obstacles) I seriously thought I was going to faint.  One of the officers tried to encourage me to keep on running up the hill, but I told her I just gave blood yesterday and if I kept running she was going to be scraping me off the pavement.  And then, when I got to the top of the hill I started running again, several officers were standing at the top of the hill trying to offer us Krispie Kreme doughnuts.  About one mile back another officer had shouted that there were doughnuts and bagpipes waiting for us at the end.  So that bit of information coupled with the fact that I was pretty mentally tired, led me to believe that the race was done and that I had reached the finish line.  Granted, this race was a pretty small race and the first time this race had ever occurred.  So, I thought maybe they didn’t realize that the end of the race should be more obvious.  After about 30 seconds of walking I realized that I was completely delusional and that the race was not over.  I ran about another 1/10 of a mile to the race end where I promptly grabbed water and plopped down on the curb.  It was the worse race ever for me.  It was more of a fun run than anything, but I had no idea I would feel so horrible running it.

Following the run was breakfast at Panera and a mad cleaning spree as well as some grocery shopping at TJ’s – my favorite weekend activity.  Brad and I invited some friends for dinner and while I cleaned I had chuck roast, carrots, and potatoes stewing in the crockpot.

This is Brad’s mom’s recipe.  I called her for it and everything.  Basically it’s about 3 lbs. of chuck roast browned first, and then combined with about 2 cups of chopped carrots and 2 cups of chopped russet potatoes.  A few cups of water and a small can of tomato sauce with plenty of salt and pepper and you’re set.  I didn’t have all day so I put the stew on high and it cooked for about three hours before our friends arrived.

My proudest cooking endeavor of the weekend was honey wheat bread.   The recipe comes from Food Network, but the website is not very descriptive, especially if you are a newbie bread maker.

I clearly remember the first time I had this bread.  Brad had decided to make bread at like 9 pm.  This is not the kind of bread you make quickly.  So I had been anticipating the bread for several hours and then fell asleep while smelling it baking.  Eventually, Brad woke me up and handed me a piece of bread with butter smeared all over the top.  I didn’t even open my eyes, which may have added to the transcendental experience of this bread.  It was the best bread I had ever tasted.  One day I will try another bread recipe, but for now I don’t have any desire to venture out because I truly am in love with this bread.  It’s oaty and crunchy and soft in all the right places.  It slices just right if you want to use it for sandwiches.  It is perfect with a great soup or stew, which made it really great with the beef stew.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 cups bread machine flour
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the yeast in the warm water and stir, allowing the mixture to rest for at least 5 minutes.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl: all flours, salt, and rolled oats.  In a separate smaller bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, and the yeast and water mixture.  Mix well and slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Sometimes I use the kitchen aid mixer to mix but usually I mix by hand.  Bread is funny and takes a little careful handling sometimes.  Plus, mixing thick dough with your hands is therapeutic.  Spray one large baking sheet with non-stick spray, divide dough into two lumps and put in pan or on sheet.  I like to use the sheets because the bread comes out more rustic-looking.  I form the loaves with my hands so they have the shape of a large egg.   Allow bread to rise until it’s at least triple in size.  The recipe says to let it double twice, but my impatient self has found that I just let it rise until I notice it is much bigger than it was originally. To rise properly, it needs to be in a somewhat warm space.  I took the little table that sits in our foyer and carried it over to our gigantic windows, placing the sheet with the dough on the table, and allowed it to rise for at least 2 hours.  I am not really an exact-ist when it comes to cooking.  Like my Mamaw says, “You’ve got to feel it.”  So feel it, I do.  When I feel like the bread has risen enough, it’s ready to bake.
Bake until golden brown.

I don’t like to say how long the bread should take in the oven, because every oven is completely different.  I often find that I have to add or subtract 5 minutes or so from every recipe.  So, you really need to watch the bread in your own oven to determine what is best for you.  Mine takes around 30 minutes.  But I don’t really turn the timer on, I just remove the bread when I feel like it’s ready.  I let it sit awhile before slicing into it because the bread will continue to cook.  This bread is amazing with butter.  Between the beef stew and the upcoming stew I’m about to share with you, one loaf was gone in 2 days (we did share with our dinner guests).  The second loaf is in the fridge and being saved for Brad’s parents when we make the long drive to Currituck, NC for Thanksgiving.

The second stew of the weekend came after I conquered 10.5 miles on Sunday.  Ironic that I was dying running a 5K the day before, but enjoyed a pleasant > 10 miles the following day.  Okay, so it wasn’t that pleasant, the last 2 miles was ran in the cold rain.  Seeing how we have plenty of NC coastal shrimp in the fridge (we had 16 pounds in August and  probably have about 10 pounds now), I thought a shrimp stew/soup was in order.  We literally could write a cookbook called What to Do with 16 Pounds o f Shrimp.  We have tried everything.  I think our favorite has been shrimp and grits made with a bit of yellow curry, cumin, mozzarella, and parmesan reggiano.  It’s one of my specialties and I will post the recipe in the near future.

My shrimp stew was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe.

  • 1 3/4  cups  chopped red onion
  • 1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2  cup  chopped celery
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2  cups  chopped baking potato
  • 3 cups of veggie broth
  • 2 cups of frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1 pint of organic cherry tomatoes
  • 1  (6-ounce) can no salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  pounds  medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Old bay

Saute bell pepper, celery, red onion, and garlic until soft in a large pot.  Add broth, potatoes, tomatoes, tomato paste, cilantro, and corn.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  Add shrimp and allow to simmer for about 10 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper.

I allowed my stew to sit on the warm setting of our stove top for about an hour until dinner was ready.  We added Old Bay as an afterthought and it really set the stew off.  If I had to do this over again I would definitely add about 2 Tbsp. of Old Bay during the second step. When I put the leftovers in the fridge, I added a generous scoop of Old Bay.

Oh my geez this was good.  As I was eating leftover at lunch today at work, I couldn’t help but notice the sweetness added by the corn and cherry tomatoes.  Brad would like to add that it was de-li-cious and looks forward to eating it three days in a row.  As for his review of the beef stew, he has had it for breakfast for the past two days, so I guess that’s a good sign as well.

On another note, Brad and I have been looking for a Christmas tree skirt for 2 years with no success.  Does that mean we’re picky?  It took me exactly 3 years to find a tree topper that I like.  If anyone knows of a great store that sells tree skirts, I would love to hear about them.

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Butternutty soup

I really love to make soups, especially those that involve winter squash like butternut.  Last week I finally decided what to do with the butternut squash that had been sitting on my counter for a week by looking at multiple recipes and merging what I liked about each in one delicious soup.

The results were a thick, rich, delicious deep orange soup that is filling and warming to the soul.  The recipe follows.

1 butternut squash

2 6-7 inch long carrots

1 red bell pepper

4 cups of vegetable stock

1/2 cup of skim milk

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp dried thyme

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper

nonstick spray

Remove the skin of the butternut squash (I like to use a veggie peeler), remove the seeds and chop in 1 inch cube pieces.  Slice the carrots in circles about 2 cm. thick.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and spread squash and carrots evenly on the sheet.  I used two sheets.  Salt well and roast at 500 degrees for 20 minutes.  Chop the red bell pepper in 1 inch strips and place on the baking sheets with the other veggies.  Roast all veggies for 10 additional minutes. Saute garlic until beginning to slightly brown.

Roasting VeggiesMeanwhile, simmer the veggie stock with the thyme, sauteed garlic, and red pepper flakes.  When the veggies are through roasting, add them to the simmering stock.  Allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.  Use a food processor or immersion blender to puree the entire soup mixture.  Put soup back in the pot (if you used a food processor) and add the milk stirring well.

Soup is delicious if served immediately, but even better after bring refrigerated the following day.  Up the deliciousness with some add-ins.  I really love a tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter which makes the soup butternutty.  Another favorite topping is a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Parmesan reggiano or mozzarella would be delicious as well. Butternutty soup

After eating this soup for the past 3-4 days, I have found that I like to accompany it with Kashi TLC crackers or a half sandwich with whole wheat bread smeared with humus and a slice of Jarlsburg.  Yum!

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