Category Archives: Soups

Tanzanian Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Soup with (optional) Zanzibar-Style Curry Powder

Tanzanian Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Soup

Tanzanian Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Soup (with Brown Rice)

I got a cookbook for Christmas that is quickly becoming my primary go-to for delicious, healthy, inexpensive recipes: Bean by Bean, by a woman named (❤) Crescent Dragonwagon. (I am firmly against ever changing my last name upon marriage, but I would make an exception for this woman’s son, if she has one.)  As previously discussed in a post way back when, I really, REALLY like beans. They are nutritious yet extremely affordable, and come in about a zillion shapes and colors, which makes them kind of exciting. They can also be incorporated into just about any type of cuisine, as this cookbook makes clear. I thought I had a pretty sizable repertoire of bean recipes up my sleeve, but this cookbook has proven otherwise, and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying out all kinds of new bean recipes. Pass the Beano, ha.

My favorite thus far has been this Tanzanian black-eyed pea soup with coconut milk. It’s FANTASTIC. Assuming you stick with coconut oil or some other kind vegetable-derived oil, it’s vegan, but it’s one of those dishes that’s so rich and delicious, a devoted carnivore would never miss the meat. It calls for a particular Zanzibar-style curry powder blend, which isn’t widely available, so I’ve included a recipe to make it from scratch; however, you likely won’t notice much of a difference with a standard Indian curry powder.

Tip on buying coconut oil: Coconut oil is pretty much the Next Big Thing in cooking oils – it has all the health benefits of olive oil, with a much higher smoke point and a richer, warmer flavor. As a result, it’s SUPER expensive at grocery stores and natural foods markets – $12+ for a 15 oz. jar. It’s much more economical to buy a large tub it on Amazon, such as this one, which is currently $26.59 for 54 oz. Coconut oil is extremely shelf-stable – an unrefined one will keep for upwards of two years – so if you have space for a huge tub in your cupboard, definitely go this route. (And then use it with reckless abandon! It’s friggin’ delicious.)

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Zanzibar-Style Curry Powder (adapted for this soup from the recipe here)
Zanzibar curry powder has less turmeric and a slightly different spice mixture than Indian curry powder. Making this spice mixture from scratch is entirely optional; your results will be just as good (though slightly – slightly – different) with a regular Indian curry powder.

  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds, if you can find them
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Dry-roast the coriander, cumin, mustard, fennel, and fenugreek seeds in a small frying pan over medium-low heat for several minutes, until they become fragrant. Be careful not to overdo it – mustard seeds in particular go from pleasantly toasted to burned very quickly.

Immediately transfer the roasted seeds to a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle, and grind into a fine powder. Add the remaining ingredients, and set aside to add to the soup when indicated.

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Tanzanian Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Soup (adapted from Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon)

  • 1-2 c. dry black-eyed peas (depending on how thick and hearty you want your soup to be), rinsed and soaked for at least four hours
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, ghee, or a neutral oil such as vegetable
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, seeds removed (unless you like things pretty spicy) and chopped
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (if not organic) and minced or grated
  • 1 recipe Zanzibar curry powder (above), or 1 Tbsp. store-bought curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 15 oz. can unsweetend coconut milk
  • 4-6 c. vegetable broth/water/water + bullion cubes, depending on how much water boiled off when cooking your beans
  • 1 banana and/or banana chips, for garnish (optional – I omitted this, as I have trouble mixing sweet and savory foods)
  • 1 lb. white or brown rice, for serving (optional – serve with something else if you’d prefer)
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Cook the beans: Drain the soaking water. Place the beans in a pot with 2-3″ of water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer, partially covered, for 45-75 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

Prepare the Zanzibar curry powder, if using.

Get the rice cooking, if you’ll serve the soup with rice, using to the instructions it came with.

When the beans are nearing done-ness, heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper, serrano, and ginger, and cook for another 4 minutes. Lower the heat, add the curry powder and cloves, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.

Add the cooked or mostly-cooked black eyed peas to the onion mixture, along with the canned tomatoes, honey, coconut milk, and veggie broth. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10-20 minutes. Crank in some black pepper, taste, and adjust for salt and pepper levels.

Serve with a scoop of rice in each bowl (again, optional), and sliced banana and/or banana chips on the top (also optional).

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Cost of core ingredients: All primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.

  • ~1.5 lbs. black-eyed peas @ $1.99/lb.:~$1.50
  • 1 large onion: ~$1.20
  • 1 red bell pepper: FREE (well, effectively so) from my freezer
  • 1 serrano chile: $0.30
  • 1 piece of ginger: $0.30
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes: $1.59
  • 1 15 oz. can unsweetend coconut milk: $3.19 (oof, pricey…but SO delicious)
  • ~1 lb. brown basmati rice @ $2.59/lb: ~$2.59

Total cost for six servings: $10.67 plus the cost of small amounts of oil, spices, honey, bullion, salt, and pepper.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Beans, Cuisines, Gluten-free, Main Ingredient(s), Recipes, Soups, Special Diets, Sub-Saharan African, Vegan, Vegetarian

The Farmers Market Files: Italian Sausage and Kale Stew (or Soup)

Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

This is a great fall stew that I threw together after going a little crazy at the farmers market one weekend (did I mention I got a job?) and ending up with more stuff than I could fit in my (albeit small) refrigerator. I bought one bunch of kale that was so large, it took up almost an entire shelf in my fridge all by itself. I needed to act, and fast. So I made up a recipe that used a little bit of everything I had on hand, plus ALL of my kale, and the results were so fabulous that I did it all 0ver again the next week, enormous bunch of kale and all.

I was tempted to call this “Kale Stew, With Some Other Stuff” when I first tried it, because it does contain quite a bit of kale. However, the other ingredients ultimately hold their own, making this a great recipe for really packing away (or getting rid of, depending on your perspective) the veggies without feeling like you’re eating rabbit food. Plus, did I mention that it’s delicious? My significant other, who isn’t nearly as enthralled with veggies as I am, ate second helpings both times I made this, and insisted on taking leftovers for lunch the next day as well. (However, if eating enormous helpings of kale doesn’t sound like your thing, you can easily turn this stew into a less kale-centric soup by doubling the broth and halving the kale.)

Serve this with a hearty loaf of bread, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal for a cool fall evening!

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Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

  • 1 1/2 lbs. hot Italian sausage (I thought chicken sausage worked especially well in this dish)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, if you can find them, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-sized leek, white/light green and dark parts separated, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized waxy potatoes, eyes removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth (or 8, if you’d rather make soup)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel, or 1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 supermarket-sized bunches kale (or only 1 for the soup version), tough inner rib removed, cut into ~1-inch-thick slices
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Remove the Italian sausages from their casings by slicing each lengthwise and removing the inner meat. Discard the casings. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot, and sauté the sausage meat, using a spoon or spatula to break it up into smaller pieces. Once the meat has browned, after about 5 minutes, add the onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, leek bottoms, and potatoes, and sauté for another 10 minutes.

Add the broth, along with the dark green leek tops, nutmeg, and fennel. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Once it is simmering, add the sliced kale. If you’re using two full bunches of kale, it will probably be pretty hard to stir the kale in at this point, so cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes; this will steam the kale, which will start to reduce its volume somewhat. After 5 minutes, take a stab at stirring the kale into the rest of the stew. Cover, and cook for another 10 minutes.

The stew is done once the kale is cooked and the potatoes are beginning to fall apart. Add salt (if your broth contained salt, you might not need much) and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Cost of core ingredients: Since I only buy organic, naturally-raised, hormone-free, etc. etc. etc. meats, the 1 1/2 lbs. of Italian sausage in this recipe cost a pretty penny, making this dish the most expensive per serving of all the recipes I’ve blogged about to date. Still, at less than $3/serving, this slight indulgence definitely didn’t throw off my food budget for the week.

  • 1 large onion: ~$1
  • 2 farmers market carrots: $0.50?
  • 2 farmers market parsnips: $0.50?
  • 1 farmers market leek: $0.50?
  • 2 farmers market potatoes: $0.75?
  • 1 ENORMOUS bunch farmers market kale: $2 (this would be far more expensive if I bought it at my food co-op)
  • 1.5 lbs. chicken Italian sausage a@ $5.99/lb. = $8.99

Total cost for five servings: $14.24, plus the cost of small amounts of olive oil, celery, Better than Bullion (LOVE that stuff), spices, salt, and pepper.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under European, Gluten-free, Meat, Recipes, Soups, Stews, Veggies

Red Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Ginger

Red Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Ginger

Red Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Ginger, served with skillet cornbread

Apologies once again for the long hiatus. One of the more annoying things about grad school is that your brain is tired ALL THE TIME, which sometimes makes it hard to sit down and blog, even about something as wonderful as food. Also, most of what I’ve made over the past couple of weeks that have been underwhelming at best, and I don’t want to post underwhelming recipes.

This recipe is definitely not underwhelming, though, so we’re back on track. I was a little skeptical of this recipe the first time I tried it, just because beans and mushrooms don’t strike me as being well-matched partners in culinary crime, but this recipe changed my mind. (I have since discovered that Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian includes several variations on bean and mushroom dishes, so apparently this is a thing.) The combination of flavors in this soup is absolutely fantastic.

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitakes are much more affordable than fresh ones

Cool tip for buying mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms are EXPENSIVE – $10/lb. at my co-op, and probably a similar price elsewhere. They’re MUCH cheaper if you buy them dried and rehydrate them, plus they keep for ages, so you can always have them on hand. Dried shiitakes are available at Asian markets, generally pre-sliced. Most of the time these packages only include the mushroom tops and not the stems (which are tough and inedible), saving you even more money over buying them fresh. The pack of shiitake mushrooms pictured here cost me $3.99 at an Asian market, and I used approximately 1/5 of it for this recipe – a huge improvement over fresh mushrooms!

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitakes

To rehydrate dried mushrooms, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Don’t throw away the soaking water once they’re hydrated, though – it contains a lot of flavor, and most recipes will have you add this water to the dish.

The recipe below is lightly adapted from the older version of The Cafe Brenda Cookbook, written by the owner of a fantastic little vegetarian restaurant in Minneapolis (now closed, sadly – the owner now operates a much pricier place). I highly recommend this cookbook – nearly everything I’ve made from it has been phenomenal (and the newer version is probably even better).

I recommend serving this soup with cornbread, if you’re a cornbread kind of person. If not, a regular hearty bread or even rice will round this out nicely.

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Red Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Ginger (adapted from The Cafe Brenda Cookbook)

1 lb. dried red beans – kidney, adzuki, small red (most boring bean name ever), etc.
1/2 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms (or about 1/3 lb. fresh)
3 Tbsp. coconut, palm, or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large leek, washed well, halved or quartered lengthwise, and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional – red bell peppers are expensive, so feel free to omit this)
7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 two-inch long piece of ginger, minced (peel if conventional; if organic, it’s okay not to peel)
6 cups veggie stock or water + bullion, Better Than Bullion, etc.
4 Tbsp. soy sauce/tamari
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Get the beans cooking: Cover beans in enough water to cover by about two inches, bring to a boil, and simmer until close to being done (how long this takes will depend on the variety). Add more water if the beans get too dry; however, it’s best if most of the water has boiled off by the time the beans are mostly done so that they don’t add too much liquid to the soup.

Shiitake mushroom soaking water

Shiitake soaking water

Meanwhile, soak the mushrooms in 2 cups of water for at least half an hour. Once they’ve fully hydrated, remove from the water and chop roughly. Save the soaking water for use later.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery for five minutes or so, until softened. Add the leek, red bell pepper (if using), garlic, and ginger, and sauté for a further five minutes.

When the beans are nearly done (still a little bit hard), add them and their cooking liquid, plus the veggie stock, mushrooms, and mushroom soaking water, to the sautéed veggies. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans are fully cooked, whichever is longer. Remove from heat, and add the soy sauce/tamari and cayenne pepper. Add additional salt if necessary, and serve.

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Cost of core ingredients: I’m not including the red bell pepper here because I didn’t buy one (I stock up  at farmers markets during the summer and freeze them – I wouldn’t have used one in this recipe if I didn’t have any in the freezer because they are way too expensive in the winter). Ingredients here are primarily organic and were all purchased at my food co-op.

~1 lb. dried small red beans @ $1.89/lb = ~$1.89
1/2 oz. dried shiitakes @ $3.99 for 2.5 oz =  $0.80
1 medium onion: ~$1
2 carrots: ~$1.15
1 large leek: $2.49
1 two-inch piece of ginger: $0.54

Total cost for at least 6 servings: $7.87 + the cost of small amounts of oil, celery, garlic, veggie bullion stuff, tamari, and cayenne pepper.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Beans, Cheap Eating Strategies, Fusion, Gluten-free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian

Meatless/Almost Meatless Split Pea Soup with Herbs

Almost Meatless Split Pea Soup

Almost Meatless Split Pea Soup

I know a lot of people, myself included, who grew up hating split pea soup. It was definitely the only lentil- or pea-based dish that my family ate, so I was never quite sure what to make of it. Plus, it’s pretty much the most unappealing color possible for a food. I would have never guessed that I’d actually be cooking and eating it on purpose someday. 🙂

But I’m glad that I’ve given it a second chance as an adult, because it’s a really hearty, filling soup that, when done right, tastes great. It’s especially great for those freezing cold nights when all you want to do is hide out at home (and eat soup). Plus, it’s cheap. So how can you go wrong?

I made a vegetarian version of split pea soup for years, using a veggie broth to give it body, and sometimes finishing it off with a couple tablespoons of soy sauce (as recommended by Deborah Madison). Now that I’m eating meat again, I’ve ditched the veggie broth and soy sauce in favor of a couple of ham hocks or shanks to give it a ham flavor and a bit of meat. Both taste great, though, so I’m providing both recipes below.

Serve this soup with a hearty bread or some biscuits for a balanced and filling meal.

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Meatless/Almost Meatless Split Pea Soup with Herbs 

1 1/2 lbs., or about 3 cups, green split peas
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips (they look like white carrots), chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped/minced
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

For the vegetarian version:
4 cups veggie broth (or water + bullion, Better than Bullion, etc.)
4 additional cups water, plus more if soup becomes too dry
Soy sauce

For the non-veg version:
2 ham hocks or shanks (shanks will give you more meat)
8 cups water, plus more if soup becomes too dry
2 tsp. salt, or to taste

Wash the split peas well, to reduce foaming. Combine the peas, ham hocks/shanks (non-veg version), all herbs, and water + veggie stock (veg version) in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, mostly covered, until the peas have broken down into a fine puree. If you are using new split peas, this should take about 60-90 minutes. If your peas are older, this can take quite a bit longer. Add more water if the soup becomes too dry, or if you want a thinner soup.

Non-veg version: When the ham hocks/shanks begin to fall apart, remove the pieces from the soup with a pair of tongs. Cut off the meat, roughly chop it, and return it to the pot, discarding the rest.

At least half an hour before the peas will be done, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the veggies and garlic until soft, about five minutes. Add this to the soup (scrape the sides of the pan with a spatula to make sure all of the olive oil gets in the soup, as that is where much of the flavor resides) and continue to cook until the peas are completely broken down.

Add soy sauce (veg version – 1-3 Tbsp. should do it) or salt (non-veg version) and freshly-ground black pepper to taste. Serve with a hearty bread or biscuits.

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Cost of core ingredients: I made the non-vegetarian version of this soup, so the price of ham shanks are included here. This soup would be substantially cheaper without the ham shanks (though it is still quite cheap). The ingredients listed here are primarily organic and were purchased at my food co-op. The ham shanks are from naturally-raised pigs.

1 1/2 lbs. green split peas @ 1.29/lb. = $1.94
2 ham shanks: ~$3.83
1 medium onion: ~$1
2 carrots: ~$1.15
2 parsnips: $1.21

Total cost for at least 6 servings: $9.13 + the cost of small amounts of all herbs, olive oil, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Bon Appétit!

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Harira – Moroccan Vegetable Soup

Harira

Harira - Moroccan Vegetable Soup

You guys, this soup is AMAZING. I discovered harira while traveling through Morocco. After days of paying through the nose for crappy, bland couscous-and-sauteed-veggies kinds of dishes in touristy restaurants, my friend and I happened upon this man in an alleyway who was serving up steaming bowls of this stuff for the equivalent of 25¢ US. And we never ate crappy tourist food again.

Harira is traditionally made with lamb meat, but there are many vegetarian versions as well (like this one, and the one served by the alleyway man). I’ve never tried a version with lamb, and I’ve never felt the need to, because this one is so incredibly tasty and satisfying.

Spices in a Moroccan Souk

Spices at a market in Fes, Morocco

The spices are what really make this dish. It calls for a lot (eight), but all of them are common and widely-available. Harira is also traditionally served with a Moroccan chile and garlic paste called harissa, which does add a nice additional kick to it, but it’s expensive and entirely optional. If you do go for harissa, I recommend this one. You can also make your own, though I personally find this way more trouble than it’s worth.

Served with a filling bread, this soup makes a lovely and hearty meal, and it’s great in the winter. The recipe below was adapted from this recipe on eCurry, which I’ve changed a bit to make it simpler to follow and a bit cheaper. I’ve also upped the spices because this soup needs LOTS of spices.

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Harira – Moroccan Vegetarian Soup (adapted from eCurry)

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. ground ginger OR a 1 inch-long piece of fresh ginger, grated/minced
3/4 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 to 2 tsp. paprika (smoked, if you have it, but regular is fine)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 cup red lentils, well-rinsed
1 medium potato, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 cup cooked chickpeas (about 1/3 cup dried), OR 1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas
8 cups water, stock, or water + bullion
1/2 bunch cilantro (stems and leaves), chopped/minced
1/2 bunch parsley (stems and leaves), chopped/minced
1/2 cup orzo, white rice, or other small grain item
1 Tbsp. flour + 1/2 cup water (as a thickener – omit to make gluten-free)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Harissa paste for serving (totally optional)

First, measure out all spices (including the cinnamon stick) into a bowl and keep it by the stove, to make things a bit simpler later.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, celery, and carrot until the juices evaporate and they begin to brown or stick a bit, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chop the rest of the veggies and wash the lentils while this is happening.

Add the lentils and the spices, stir, and let fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the chopped zucchini and potato, and fry for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato puree, water/stock, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and let simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

Whisk together the flour and 1/2 cup of water, and pour it into the soup. Stir to incorporate. Add the parsley, cilantro, and orzo/rice, and simmer, partially covered for another 20 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of harissa in the middle of each bowl (expensive and optional), if you like heat, and a nice, hearty bread. Brace yourself for mouth-gasms.

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Cost of core ingredients: This recipe is a bit pricier than others posted here, due to all the veggies and herbs, but overall it’s still pretty cheap – if you omit the harissa paste or use homemade. Ingredients listed are primarily organic and were all purchased at my food co-op.

1 onion: ~$1.20
2 carrots: ~$1.15
1 potato: $0.96
1 zucchini: $1.83
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes: $2.49
1/2 bunch parsley: $1.00
1/2 bunch cilantro: $1.00
~1/4 lb. red lentils @ $2.29/lb. = ~$0.57
~1/4 lb. chickpeas @ $2.29/lb. = ~$0.57
~1/4 lb. orzo @ $3.19/lb. = ~$0.80

Total for at least 6 servings: $11.57 + the cost of small amounts of olive oil, celery, all spices, flour, and bullion.

Harira

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Gluten-free, Moroccan, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Deborah Madison’s Hearty Lentil Soup

Deborah Madison's Hearty Lentil Soup

I will get better at taking pictures of food, I swear!

I love cooking with lentils. They’re cheap, cook up fast, and don’t require a pre-soak like dried beans, plus they come in seemingly endless varieties. They work great in soups, stews, pilaf-type dishes, and cold salads.

Even just within the category of lentil soup recipes, there seems to be endless variation. There are versions from Middle Eastern, Indian, and European culinary traditions, as well as modern interpretations, like the recipe below.

This is one of my favorite lentil soups because it is quick, easy, and packs a ton of flavor, in addition to being cheap. It works because it includes two acidic ingredients (red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, and dijon mustard), which intensify the flavors of the rest of the dish. Served with a high-quality, filling bread, this is easily a complete meal.

See below for a tabulation of costs as well as recommendations, tips, and tricks.

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“Hearty Lentil Soup” from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

2 tbs. olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion
3 large garlic cloves
salt and freshly milled pepper
3 tbs. tomato paste
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup finely diced carrot
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups French green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Chopped celery leaves and parsley

Heat the oil in a soup pot over high heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to color around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile mince or pound the garlic in a mortar with 1 tsp. salt. Work the tomato paste into the onion, then add garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and parsley and cook for 3 minutes. Add the lentils, 2 quarts water, and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

Stir in the mustard and vinegar. Taste and add more of either as needed. Check the salt, season with plenty of pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve, garnished with the celery leaves and parsley. The longer the soup sits before serving the better it will taste.

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Cost of core ingredients: This is something I am going to try to do for the recipes I post here, though it’s a little tricky because there’s no good easy way to estimate the cost of things that you only use a bit of (like olive oil, vinegar, garlic, etc.). So I will just take a stab at estimating the cost of the main ingredients, with the caveat that the actual cost of the dish is a bit more. The costs listed below are for primarily organic ingredients purchased at my food co-op, so the cost of this dish would presumably be less if you shop at a conventional grocery store.

Lentils: ~0.6 lbs. @ $1.79/lb = ~$1.07
One large onion: ~$1.20
Two carrots: ~$1.15
Half bunch parsley (I’ll use the other half later this week): $1.00

Total for 4+ hearty servings: ~$4.42 + the cost of two stalks of celery plus small amounts of olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar, plus good bread for serving

Possible or recommended variations:

  • French lentils (sometimes known as Le Puy lentils) tend to be expensive and not widely available. They’re cute and pretty, but not worth the extra cost. Substitute regular green or brown lentils – you won’t notice a difference.
  • I usually add a bit of veggie or chicken bullion when I add the water, for a bit more flavor.
  • I really like my foods acidic, so I tend to double the vinegar and mustard – I find it kicks up the flavor a bit.
  • Regular yellow mustard would work fine here if you don’t want to buy a separate mustard. However, I wouldn’t recommend using other vinegars. Double the mustard if you don’t have red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar and don’t want to buy it.
  • Increase the lentils to 1 3/4 – 2 cups for a heartier, more filling soup-stew.

Tips and tricks:

  • Celery will actually keep for several weeks to a month in the crisper, if you’re willing to cut out a couple bad bits here and there, so you can use the same bunch for many meals.
  • Freeze leftover tomato paste in tablespoon-sized blobs (I put them on a plastic plate, and then move them into a ziploc bag once frozen) to avoid having to purchase a brand new can every time you cook with tomato paste.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Gluten-free, Lentils, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian