Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lentil soup

Can't believe it's been almost two weeks since my last blog post.  Not because I haven't been cooking, but because most of it has been replays of old standbys like Zucchini moussaka and fried rice made with frozen stir-fry veggies.  Life's getting hectic again, but I finally made time to restore health and sanity with a simple homemade vegetable soup.  (As for the continuation of the exotic veggies...the Chinese okra sat in the fridge too long and I couldn't use it, and I made the bitter melon with about the same spice mix as the bottlegourd.  Whoa, dude - bitter melon's bitter.  Wish I'd done a Chinese stir-fry instead; soy sauce probably would have taken the edge off better than the Indian spices did.)

So, after stopping into Publix on Monday and picking up a few things, I decided to dispense with some of the lentils that have sat in the cupboard unopened for months.  This lentil soup is one of the first things I learned to make during my junior year in Geneva, when I lived in the university apartments and had a monthly allowance for groceries.  It's also the first thing I ever made using broth, and one of my vegetarian classmates declared on a trip to the store that if you need broth, THIS (holding a box of Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes) is what you buy.  Eventually I found chicken, fish and ham broth, but I still like the veggie broth from time to time. 

2 tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry white wine
10 oz. dry green lentils
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tsp Cavender's Greek seasoning
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in an 8-quart pot.  Add the carrots and saute covered until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute covered until softened, another 3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, stir and saute covered until softened, another 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Add lentils and rosemary and reduce heat to one notch below medium.  Cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.  During the last few minutes of cooking, add the Greek seasoning and parsley. 

I'll go ahead and admit that I had been going more for a rustic French result, but now I'm thinking that would have worked out better just with chicken broth, rosemary, salt and pepper.  The Greek seasoning was basically a "save" because the soup seemed to be missing something before I added it.  At least now I understand why this recipe has been hit-or-miss in the past.  Plus I've got leftovers for the next two days' lunch and a bunch more carrots left to use in some of the many fall recipes I've been bookmarking!  Check back soon to see what's next...

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