Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dinner and two recipes

Tonight we had lentil soup for dinner.

I will be teaching my third and fourth graders about Jacob and Esau in two weeks. That story almost always makes me hungry for lentil soup. This time, I guess I got the craving just thinking about the story coming up.

Along with our lentil soup we had homemade oat bread and sun butter, which is like peanut butter, only made of sunflower seeds. I felt pretty virtuous, eating such tasty vegetarian fare.

Now that food prices are up, the stock market has crashed and we are still waiting to find out if we are actually purchasing 20 acres so we can start the family compound... I thought maybe it would be a good time to share my recipes for soups made with legumes. Healthy and economical, what more can you ask for? Flavor? Oh, these have nice flavor, and thick, satisfying textures. We better all get used to eating these types fo things. Soon we might be very thankful just to have a bag of dried beans in the cupboard. I hope I am jesting.

For our family, less is more when it comes to soup ingredients.
Keep it simple, make it delicious.

Tomato Lentil Soup

8 cups water
1 lb. lentils
2 tsp. chicken base
1 tsp. salt
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
3-5 cloves garlic, pressed

Put ingredients into a large pot. (They say to rinse the lentils--I never do. I kind of eyeball them to check for stones.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for a few hours until the lentils are tender. It doesn't take more than three hours. They might even be done in two hours. Cooking longer will not hurt anything, either, but you may need to add some water. Shortly before serving, add:

2--15 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. dried basil (or a bunch of fresh basil, if you have it)

Check for salt level (it's usually fine), heat through and serve. This is good, especially with a lot of garlic.

Split Pea Soup

8 cups water
1 lb. green split peas
1 Tbsp. diced dried minced onion
1 tsp. salt
1 ham bone or 1-2 cups diced ham

Put ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on very low heat for a few hours until the peas are soft and mushy. Taste for salt level and add a bit if needed about 1 hour before serving. This soup smells delicious. One of DJ's sax students came over while this soup was simmering, and she said, "What smells so GOOD?" If you can jut get your kids (...or yourself?) past the fact that it is green and made of legumes, they will like it. It tastes like ham with mild oniony undertones. As it thickens, it gains something like the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. What's not to like about that? Keep it simple though, and for goodness sake never put in any carrots. I hate carrots in my pea soup! The only chunks in pea soup should be soft pieces of succulent ham. I'm dead serious.

So here's to saving money and eating cheaply. Split peas and lentils are good legumes to start with if you don't use legumes much... they are pretty foolproof, unlike bigger beans that sometimes won't get soft, and other times mash when you want them whole. Legumes can be frustrating, but these recipes are tried, true and easy.

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