Monday, March 16, 2020

Pandemic? Raining? Shelter Indoors Make Greek Soup with Singing Lemon!

When you are sheltering indoors, it turns cold, and it is pouring down rain, nothing tastes better than a bowl of hot soup.  I had actually been thinking about this soup since I saw it in the Washington Post.  I must admit that trying to buy-in groceries for sheltering-in was a bit of a challenge.  No lentils?  How can that be?  Who would have thought lentils would be a favorite item? 

I inventoried the pantry and guess what?  I found lentils!  So, I bought everything I needed for the soup, picked some lemons from the tree and made a super tasty pot of soup!

Greek-Style Lentil and Spinach Soup 
with Lemon
Recipe adaptation by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

8 Servings (12 cups)

1 pound brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
10 cups vegetable stock
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 1/2 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes, peeled, diced (Yukon gold, red or russet)
10 oz. fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery with leaves, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 lemons
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine the lentils, stock, jalapeño, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, bay leaves in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, partially covered for about thirty minutes, until the lentils are tender.  Add additional vegetable stock if needed.

Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, stir,  cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender. 

While the mixture simmers, heat the olive oil in a large fry pan until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until it starts to soften, 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, 4-5 minutes. 

Add the mixture to the soup, deglazing the skillet with a little bit of the broth from the soup, then add the deglazed contents back to the soup pot. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and add more if needed. Remove the bay leaves. 

Thinly slice one of the lemons and cut the other into wedges. Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup.  Serve the soup hot with a lime slice in each bowl.  Pass around the lemon wedges and some crusty bread!

Notes:  It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to ten days.  It can be frozen for up to three months.

This was a super soup!  The lemon steals the show!  It shines through with each bite!!  

Monday, September 23, 2019

Adas Polo o Morgh (Chicken with Lentil Rice) - Salt Fat Acid Heat #kitchncookbookclub

I meant well, but I never did invite guests for dinner, but, I do deliver. The recipes that I selected from Salt Fat Acid Heat yielded enough for the neighbors and the two of, it was surprise neighbors, I brought you dinner! The neighbors were thrilled and we were happy to share.
Salt Fat Acid Heat is great reading.  I tend to read a cookbook as one would read a novel.  The difference is that I stop along the way when I am reading a cookbook.  I had intended to read everything before doing anything and I tried. But, there were so many wonderful Facebook and Instagram posts going up in the group, that I just had to go for it.

I did read the section about SALT. It was the perfect section for me to read as I have always been on the timid side when it comes to salting. It took a lot of courage and a deep breath for me to taste and “add salt until the broth was saltier than the saltiest soup broth I had eaten.” But, I did it!! And, it worked! The rice and lentils were the most flavorful ever!   I learned something this week about using salt. I cannot be timid.  I must be bold!  
I prepared the Adas Polo o Morgh (Chicken with Lentil Rice) and the Persian Herb and Cucumber Yogurt. I selected it because I was intrigued by the story about the raisins and dates that had been sautéed in butter. Maybe intrigued is the wrong word…I was salivating! All I can say is wow! This dish was amazing. It was packed with flavor! Just when I thought it couldn’t be better, I added the dollop of Herbed Yogurt. The combination of flavors, well, it jumped off the charts. We were so excited about the tender chicken and the surprise bits of dates and raisins. Nirvana!

The question is, "Why is there a dish towel wrapped around the lid of the Dutch Oven?  Well, it was recommended so that the chicken, which had been fried briefly before being placed in the bed of rice and lentils, would not become soft.  The towel absorbs the moisture and prevents it from dripping back into the soggy chicken!  It was new learning for me.  Did it work?  Yep! 

Oh, what did the neighbors say? They turned in rave reviews. In fact, my neighbor is Armenian and her comment was that it reminded her of her grandmother’s cooking. High complement. She was so excited!

I am anxious to continue reading and cooking my way through the book!

#kitchncookbookclub #saltfatacidheat 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Persian Herb and Cucumber Yogurt - Salt Fat Acid Heat #kitchncookbookclub

I prepared the Persian Herb and Cucumber Yogurt from Salt Fat Acid Heat. This was the perfect addition to the Adas Polo o Morgh (Chicken with Lentil Rice.) The dollop of this Herbed Yogurt made the dish soar! The cucumbers lend a cool and smooth background so the herbs can shine through. One more dollop, please!!! 

Have I mentioned how much fun I am having with this cookbook?  I have learned so much!

The recipe for the Samin has allowed her recipe to be published online at New York Times Cooking.  Take a look.

Break is over...I must return to the cookbook and cooking!

#kitchncookbookclub #saltfatacidheat 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Salt Fat Acid Heat - A New Me! #kitchncookbookclub

Sometimes one just needs to be rejuvenated.  That was me.  There has been so much happening that I found I could not find the right "fit" for me when it came to blogging.  I did not like feeling as though I was attached to the kitchen, camera and computer.  In the last few weeks I have been motivated to share.

Motivation....I needed motivation.  I found it.  Kitchn Cookbook Club.  It is easy to join.  It is easy to do.  No pressure.  Just a super cookbook, prepare a dish, take a picture and post.  How simple is that?  But, it isn't just the process, it is the book that was selected.  You know that I read cookbooks like novels...well, this book is the perfect choice.  Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat has provided the motivation I needed to get back in the kitchen.  Well, I never left, exactly...I just didn't venture out.  I haven't shared.  This is different.

I do not believe that we "arrive" at being a good cook.  I believe that we are always evolving.  Arriving means that one has reached an end point.  One does not arrive in cooking.  Good cooks keep learning.  So, why did I purchase a book that appeared to be a book for a beginner?  I purchased it because there is always more to learn.  I purchased it because after reading the preface, I was intrigued, motivated, curious.  Being a life-long learner keeps one fresh and on top of the game.

My intention was to read everything before doing anything but that didn't happen.  After reading the section about salt, I was motivated to but it to the test.  I really had no idea about salt.  After all of these years in the kitchen, I never knew the chemistry behind salt and how to use it to get that "wow" factor in a dish.  

Sometimes I think I was just plain lucky when the flavor jumped off the charts. I didn't truly understand why it was a success one time but not as exciting the next time I prepared it.  The answer, in part was SALT!  

This is a super cookbook and one that every cook should have in their library.  I am learning so much!  I am preparing great food!

#kitchncookbookclub #saltfatacidheat 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ale and Cheddar Soup

Today is Saturday Soup Swappers #soupswappers and today's challenge was to make a soup with craft beer!  Why craft beer? That is easy.  Beer is fun to make, fun to drink, and fun to include in recipes. It is also a fact that craft beer has been gaining in popularity in the last few years.  How many brew pubs do you notice popping up in your area?   How many names of new beers seem to appear overnight?

Craft beer isn't really a new thing.  I know it has been at least 25 years since I recall Terry and has pal, Glenn, making beer in our kitchen.  Brewing beer can mean surprises and adventures, such as

  • waking up to the smell of hops permeating the house on a Saturday morning,  
  • unattended pots of beer boiling over on the stove,
  • a carboy found cooling in the backyard pond, and  
  • a five-gallon glass carboy exploding while being kept cool under the stairs.

There may have been some surprises during Terry's beer-brewing days but I must admit he and Glenn made some darn good brew!

Cooking with beer is likely to tease the palate and is just as likely to surprise!  Beer has become a regular ingredient in Spicy Drunken Beans (chili), Beer-Braised Sirloin Tips, Steak and Guinness Pie and desserts like Chocolate Coated Beer Marshmallows, Chocolate Guinness Pudding at our house.

I enjoy cooking with both a dark beer or an ale.  I selected an ale for today's soup.  It is a Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale.

The soup is simple and flavorful.  It is one that I would make again and again.  Yum!

Ale and Cheddar Soup #soupswappers
adapted from Food and Wine

1/2 pound bacon, cut into narrow lardons
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded, deveined and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry thyme or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
12-oz beer (ale, lager or pilsner)
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, shredded
1/3 pound smoked cheddar, shredded
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and set aside.  Add the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, jalapeno, and thyme to the pan.  Cook until the vegetables are softened.  Add 6-ounces of beer and cook until reduced by half.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

In a small pan melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk over medium heat until the roux is light brown.  Whisk the mixture into the soup and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the soup has thickened.  Add the cream, cheddar cheeses, and the remaining 6-ounces of beer.  Stir until the soup is thick and creamy.  Stir in the bacon.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.


While eating leftover soup for lunch I could be heard saying, "I like this soup."  "I really like this soup."  You will too.

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Spanish-Style Meatball Soup with Saffron and Kale #soupswappers

Today is Saturday Soup Swappers and today's challenge was to make a soup with meatballs!  This was a super fun challenge.  Why?  Because I love meatballs!!  Since childhood I have leaned toward a dish that features meatballs...I have even been known to eat lamb meatballs and if you know me well, you know that lamb rates at the bottom of my list of favorites.  Bring on the Spaghetti and Meatballs, bring on the Italian Wedding Soup.  I will always have a fork and spoon ready!

Today's soup features turkey meatballs and kale with a lovely picada mixed in just before serving.  Picada originated in the Catalan region of Spain around the thirteenth or fourteenth century as a way of thickening a soup or stew.  It is a combination of ground nuts, bread crumbs, aromatics and olive oil that when mixed together thickens a dish and provides a "tah dah" to the dish!

Saffron is the star of this soup.  It has a lovely subtle flavor that you know when you taste it.  Paella isn't paella without saffron!  Bouillabaisse isn't bouillabaisse without saffron!  And, this Spanish-style soup wouldn't be nearly as tasty without it! There really isn't a substitute for saffron.  It is expensive and if you are lucky enough to be traveling in Spain you can easily find it in the market.  Saffron is the dried orange-red stigma of a crocus sativas a sterile crocus used specifically for the purpose of its three stigmas!  Yes, three.  Three per flower.  And, they are hand-harvested!  You can see why the expense.  There are 70,000 flowers harvested for one pound of saffron!

The soup starts with a sofrito which is a base for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese cooking.  This sofrito consists of onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.  The recipe says the rest....

Spanish-Style Meatball Soup 
with Saffron and Kale
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Soup Serves:  6-8

Yields:  1 cup
Preheat oven:  375° (Place oven rack in the middle.)

1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 slices white bread, quartered
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Three twists fresh ground pepper

Pulse the nuts in a food processor to fine crumbs.  Add the bread, olive oil, salt and pepper and continue to pulse the bread to coarse crumbs.  Spread the mixture over a baking sheet.  Toast, stir frequently, until golden brown.  (Ten minutes)  Let cool.

The picada may be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for two days.

Yields: 30-35 meatballs

2 slices white bread, torn into quarters
1/3 cup milk
1 pound ground turkey (93 % lean)
1/2 cup Manchego cheese
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
3 Tbsp minced shallot (1 medium)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

In a large bowl, mash the bread and milk together into a paste.  Add the ground turkey, Manchego cheese, parsley, shallot, oil, salt and pepper.  Mix the combination thoroughly.  When combined, roll the meatballs by pulling off about 2 teaspoons of meat mixture.  Roll into firm balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until firm, about 45 minutes.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 recipe of picada
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the onion and bell pepper.  Cook until softened and lightly browned. (10-12 minutes) Stir in the garlic, paprika, saffron, and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits.  Cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the broth and bring the soup to a simmer.  Gently add the meatballs and kale.  Continue to simmer until the meatballs are cooked through 12-15 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in the picada, parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.



The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Meatball and Noodle Soup (Sopa Albondigas con Fideo)  by Palatable Pastime 
Zucchetti and Meatball Soup  by  Home Sweet Homestead
Green Gram & Chicken Meatball Clear Soup  by  Sneha's Recipe 
Albondigas Soup by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Shrimp and Pork Meatball Wonton Noodle Soup  by  Karen's Kitchen Stories 
One-Pot Fennel & Stout Beef Meatball Stew  by  Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice http://faithhopeloveandlucksurvivedespiteawhiskeredaccomp

Friday, February 15, 2019

Slow Cooker Lentil, Vegetable and Pasta Soup #soupswappers

Today is Saturday Soup Swappers and today's challenge was to make a soup with an Italian flair!

I think that I mentioned my husband having knee replacement surgery which led to no appetite.  Soup was was came to mind.  I have made so many pots of soup this month that it is actually hard to decide which one to post for today's challenge.  It was a good month for soup!

When I think of Italian soups, the first soup I usually think of is Minestrone. I have a great recipe for it but I had seen some lentils in the pantry as well as some kale and vegetables in the refrigerator so it was settled.  I pulled out the slow cooker and put it together before I left for the library as I was volunteering in the Genealogy Room that day.  It was nice to know that dinner would be ready when I got home!

This is a super recipe for improvising.  Whatever is in season will work.  You can make it as brothy or hardy as you like depending on you selection of vegetables.  You really must give it a try!

Slow Cooker Lentil, Vegetable & Pasta Soup

1 pound Bob's Red Mill Lentils (brown), rinsed and picked over
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large celery rib with leaves, chopped
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (about 2 cups)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 medium zucchini, sliced
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup small pasta

Garnish:  Chopped parsley, fresh grated romano

Combine all of the ingredients except the pasta and zucchini in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.  Add the pasta, sliced zucchini and salt and pepper.  Cook an additional 30 minutes or more until the pasta is tender.  (You may wish to increase the temperature of the slow cooker for this last step.)


We loved the soup!  It had great flavor.  The next time I make it though, I will not use zucchini.  I just didn't like the flavor, it seemed bitter.  Maybe it was because it was winter zucchini as I am usually a big fan of this squash.   The kale never made it to the didn't pass muster!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

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