Lentil Soup

I wanted to write this down before I forgot it.

Lentil soup can be super bland and boring but this one is really good!

easy and delicious lentil soup

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 Medium Carrots, Diced
  • 1 small Onion, Minced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2 Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
  • 2 small Zucchini, Sliced
  • 1 Tomato, Diced
  • 1 cup Dried Lentils, Rinsed
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 tbs. Dried Dill
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 5 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth

Directions:
1. Put olive oil in stockpot over medium-high heat.  Once heated, add all veggies except garlic.  Stir for a few minutes.  Add lentils, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper and cook a few more minutes until fragrant.
2. Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes until lentils are tender.

How do you make toasted bread crumbs for salads?

I love toasted bread crumbs on salads. They add a sort of oldey timey restaurant fanciness, a nice crunch, and some added texture to what can sometimes be boring salads. They are a good substitution for bacon bits (it’s true!) because of the crunch factor. They’re easier to make and easier to eat than croutons and I like them better.

Here’s how I make them.

I always keep small pieces of stale bread, too small to do anything with pieces, and the ends of store bought loaves in a bag in the freezer. When I want to make bread crumbs I take a couple pieces out, microwave them for about 20 seconds to defrost them, and put them in the food processor for a few spins.

To make toasted bread crumbs I heat up a swirl of olive oil in a skillet, add the crumbs in a single layer, add a minced clove of garlic and maybe some dried herbs- I like a basic Italian seasoning. I cook them on medium, stirring the whole time (they burn easily). As soon as they smell nice and are golden brown I remove the pan from the heat and remove the bread crumbs from the pan (they will still cook in the hot pan and might burn).

I let them cool off a little then add them to salads. You could also use them in soups. They keep for up to a week in the fridge and a couple of slices of bread will make enough for 4 or 5 salad servings.

Yum!

I’m super into these toasted bread crumbs now but aside from salads and soups, where else can I use them??

how do I make toasted breadcrumbs for salads

Toasted bread crumbs make a delicious topping for salads.

Lent meal ideas- even if you’re not religious

If you are Christian and celebrate Lent, you know that you’re supposed to give up something– usually it’s junk food or soft drinks or alcohol or shopping or some bad habit- for the 40 days (not counting Sundays!) before Easter. Even if you’re not Christian, it’s a good way to reset yourself into being a little more healthy and it’s a good time of year to do it because it’s still wintery in most places and there’s not much going on to get you off track. You’re also supposed to refrain from eating meat on Fridays (fish and even alligator are allowed, tho, whaaaaat? I don’t like fish or alligator anyway, so I just do vegetarian on Fridays). You’re supposed to try to be more mindful during Lent, and to lay off the snacks, not eat elaborate meals, and allow yourself to be a little hungry. This slight hunger helps you be more mindful and also gets you to relate to the plight of others less fortunate.  Lent is also about alms-giving, so you could donate the money you might save by eating more simply to groups who care for the poor, if you want. It’s also a good time to really get into meatless meals. A lot of people think about going vegetarian, at least some of the time,  but have a hard time really doing it. So, why not try it now?

Here are some things I’ve made so far. I’ll post my versions of them coming up here. If they call for beef or chicken stock, I just sub water if I’m going completely vegetarian. I usually serve these with a simple green salad.

Lentil Soup with Lemon Yogurt Cream

Spinach, Tomatoes, and Chick Peas over Polenta (scroll all the way down the page)

Mushroom and Leek Risotto

Three Bean Chili

And here are some of the things I plan to make soon.

Flatbreads with Goat Cheese, Caramalized Onions, and Basil

Baked Polenta with Mushrooms

Rotini with Beans and Escarole

Mushroom and Barley Soup

 

Do you participate in Lent? What do you like to make?

 

 

 

Chicken Posole- because today is a good day for some hot soup

We have established that I rarely follow recipes. I bet most of you don’t either, soooo…

I have made the Sunset Magazine Chicken Posole a bunch of times. Never the same way twice but it’s a pretty easy and forgiving recipe and it always turns out great no matter what you put in it.

It calls for 3 large poblano chiles. Don’t have those. 3 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chiles. Hrm, don’t have those, either. 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth. Nope, that neither.

OK! Let’s do it anyway.

I swirled a little olive oil into a large saucepan and added 1/2 of a large onion, chopped. I cooked it till it was softish, then I added 4 or 5 chicken tenderloins, which I cut into bite sized pieces. I like the flash frozen chicken tenderloins you can get everywhere. I like the tenderloins better than the breasts because they are smaller and more versatile. They cook faster, too. So, then anyhow, I added 1 TBS oregano (I think it actually was Mexican oregano left over from last time I made this) 2 TBS of chili powder and 1 TBS of smoked paprika to the chicken and onion. It looked sooooooo pretty I had to take a picture.

chicken and spices for posole

After that I added 4 cloves of minced garlic. I like garlic, ok? Plus when you use a garlic press, half of it doesn’t squeeze out anyway. Then I added a 14 oz can of hominy and about 4 cups of broth. I had some suuuuuuuuuuuuper salty homemade beef broth leftover from when I made  corned beef last week, so I used some of that and added some homemade chicken broth (no salt added) and then a little water until it was the saltiness level I wanted. See- you can pretty much make this soup with whatever oddball ingredients you have on hand. I brought the whole thing to a boil then let it simmer awhile. The original recipe says to simmer it for 10 minutes which I’m sure would be sufficient. I don’t know how long mine simmered. A long time, tho. Eventually I realized it was going to be too thin and watery so I found some rice (maybe 1/4 cup or so?) in the cupboard and tossed that in there. It cooked up really nicely- I might include it next time I make this if I have any. 30 minutes or so later it still seemed a little thin so I added a few TBS of cornmeal and let it cook some more, which thickened it up nicely. Remember if you’re ever making a Mexicanish or Southwesternish or even Italianish soup or stew or chili and it seems too thin, you can always add a little cornmeal to thicken it up. Not too much, tho, or it can get too thick! Start with just a little and let it cook 10 minutes or so before adding more if you think it needs it.

chicken posole

I served the soup with some plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, and avocado. It was really good! All that long simmering made the chicken really tender, which made me think it would be delicious in the traditional way, made with pork. Or you could even use beef. Use whatever you have. The important ingredients are the onion, chili spices, and the hominy. Everything else is up for interpretation. Let me know if you make this and how you did it!

Five Things I Did…in the last two days

1. Went to the RV and Motorhome Hall Of Fame in Elkhart, IN.

2. Found a vintage ad for our trailer model.

3. Ate a delicious meal at White Palace Grill in Chicago.

4. Took pictures of Cookie Puss

5. Took a picture of Cookie Puss and Gus snuggling.