Tag Archives: lentils

Curried Lentil Stew w/Stinkbug Garnish!


A few weeks back, I discovered a cookbook at Value Village in Waterdown, Ontario…Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons.

 It has dozens upon dozens of recipes, the majority of which call for ingredients that I recognize, which is important to me.  I don’t mind having to do research and find ingredients that originate from a different culture if I’m attempting a specific dish, but I like having recipes on hand that are simple ingredients…stuff I have in my cupboard or that I can easily buy at a nearby grocery store.  The more pretentious the cookbook, the less likely I am to buy it.

This book is quite accessible and I’ve been having fun while trying out some of the recipes!

“But … a stinkbug???” you’re probably asking. “What’s THAT all about??”

Keep reading…I’ll get there *wink*

 Or if you want to see the recipe, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post.

The first recipe I decided to try was the Curried Lentil Stew.  That morning, I headed to the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and bought the vegetables I would need.  I decided to get all the prep out of the way so I began by cutting up my onions, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and garlic.

It was as I began to saute my onions in melted butter that things became interesting….

I looked over to my right and on my cupboard, I saw this trundling along my cutting board:

Stinkbug!!

 He seemed kind of dopey…slow moving…

Usually I’m pretty good with finding insects in my apartment. 
I’m not one for killing them…I usually capture flying ones in a glass, crawly ones on a piece of paper and release them outside.

But in this case, my food was all over the counter and I was in the midst of cooking my onions which required my attention, so this little visitor wasn’t welcome.  He was near my food!  And that creeped me out!!  Not to mention…at the time, I didn’t actually know what kind of bug he was and hey, the unknown is a little scary!

What the heck is THAT?
 

A little grossed out.

 

*Really* grossed out! I mean, com'on...he was near my food!!!

 

Trying to keep my wits about me....to call my bf for help 😉

 

Have regained my courage..."There's the door! Don't let it hit your pointy lil abdomen on the way out!"

 
 Luckily, my boyfriend was just down the hall and he saved the day by ushering our visitor onto a little piece of paper and finding him a seat outside on my balcony instead of in my kitchen! 
 
Initially, he had offered to smush the lil guy and I immediately said “No, just put him outside!”  I’m very glad we did because upon a little bit of research…I found this quote on Wikipedia:
 
 
Bleh!
 
So, our six-legged friend dealt with…I took a deep breath, scanned my kitchen for other creepy visitors and, seeing none, continued with my stew!
 

 Actually, I have to admit that the creeped out feeling sort of remained for a bit…so, to distract myself, I made shadow puppets in my onions!

See the bunny?

*blink blink* Yeah, I’m that kind of geek. 

 
 
So…..moving on….onions completed, I added the various spices to the mix. After another quick saute, I filled the pot with my chopped carrots and potatoes, the required amount of water and….the wrong lentils!
Ooops…those lentils were supposed to be brown.  Somehow the stinkbug is to blame for this! 

Yep, I grabbed the wrong bag and began adding the red lentils before I clued it that I had meant to use brown.  Ah well, I hadn’t added the full amount at that point so I switched and ended up having a bit of both. 

 
Beyond that, the rest of the recipe was easy-peasy.  Let it simmer…add the tomatoes, sherry, salt and pepper….simmer some more until all is as tender as you would like it to be.Regarding the sherry, I added the amount called for in the recipe but in hindsight, I would probably start with half of that next time and add the rest depending on taste.  I found the sherry flattened the flavour somewhat and I had to go about adding some more spices as well as a vegetable bouillon cube to liven it up again.  The cube actually did wonders and I would consider adding that to the list of ingredients.
 
Overall, bug crisis averted and lentil mistake corrected, the stew was great!
It was quite yummy…good flavour…a nice warm, hearty dish to eat on a cold day.
 


CURRIED LENTIL STEW

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 med potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 dried thyme
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 tsp salt…to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Saute onion until it begins to brown, about 7-8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, curry, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and thyme.  Continue to saute for another 2-3 mins while stirring.
  3. Add the carrot and potato, water and lentils.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, sherry, salt and pepper.  Continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes, or until potatoes and lentils are tender.

Source: Vegetarian Plant by Didi Emmons, Harvard Common Press, 1997

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Winter Lentil Soup


I’m learning pretty quickly that making soup is fun, easy and perfect for a cold day!  When I started cooking, I followed my recipes religiously.  If I didn’t have an ingredient, the recipe got put away…I mean I couldn’t very well….SUBSTITUTE or anything!! That was just crazy talk!

But soup…soup was made for substitutions.  Some of the best soups I’ve tried  have been exactly that, full of freedom and lacking restriction!

The freedom is addictive and I’m finding myself getting excited when I start to notice leftover vegetables in my fridge.  Enough bits and pieces…and it’s Soup-Time!!

So when I came across this Lentil Soup recipe, I was at that point…not to mention my friend Heather was also drowning in rogue vegetables…so we teamed up, brought our veggies together and made soups.  She made a curried veggie soup (that was absolutely awesome!) and I made this lentil soup.

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

I don’t have tons of pictures as our soup-making was somewhat fast and furious 🙂 but I was able to catch the basics on camera.

I had never worked with leeks before but they were a nice addition to this soup.  Once washed well, I was warned that they tend to hide the dirt, I cut them in half and chopped them into half moons. Then washed them again…just to be sure! 😉

The original recipe I had found called for kale.  I have yet to cook with kale so I’m not sure how much I’d like it.  My context is somewhat off because all I know about kale is that it was healthy for my bearded dragon and that raw it tasted fairly bitter.  Cooked, perhaps it would be different but I still am unsure as I substituted spinach instead.

Once my leeks were washed and chopped, and my garlic cloves were skinned and squished, I placed them in my soup pot with some oil to allow for a light sautéing.

While I allowed the leeks and garlic to saute, I prepped the other additions to my soup.  Sweet potatoes are a lovely addition…but a pain in the butt to prep.  All that peeling, chopping…and people wonder why I eat boxed potatoes! 😛

I replaced a can of tomatoes with actual tomatoes that we had on hand.  I blanched them, in Heather’s simmering curry soup actually, and then peeled off the skins and cut off the stems.

I added them to the leeks and garlic…smushing them with a potato masher and then allowed the mixture to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

 

 

At that point, everything else got added, well except for the spinach: sweet potatoes, lentils, thyme, salt pepper, basil, and water.  Then, let it simmer away until all is as tender as you wish!

One issue I seem to always have when making soup is that my broth tends to turn out quite watery and boring.  I’ve tried adding herbs or spices but there’s always something missing.; a richness to the flavour perhaps that can’t be replaced by simply adding spices.

After my soup had simmered for a bit, I tasted it.  It was good. Not great, but good. Heather also tried a bit and agreed that it was good but weak and she suggested adding a bouillon cube.  So I did.  One little vegetable bouillon cube later and the soup was ten times better!  Who would’ve thought that something so simple, could make such a huge difference!

The spinach waited until the very end.  When I was satisfied with the tenderness of the veggies, I added the spinach and continued the simmer for another few minutes, just to soften it slightly.

 

 So, one bouillon cube later, I had an awesome pot of soup!  Ate some, froze some and started planning for my next soup-extravaganze!

  

Winter Lentil Soup


  • 4 leeks, white and green parts
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 6 tomatoes  (or a large can of tomatoes)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • fresh basil leaves, 10-12
  1. Slice each leek in half, and then slice each half in half moons.  Be sure to wash the leeks well and remove all dirt and grit.  You should have approx 2 cups or so.
  2. Wash your spinach leaves and slice them into strips.
  3. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and then add the leeks and garlic.  Saute for about 3 minutes, allowing the leeks to began to get tender.
  4. Either add your can of tomatoes, or in my case, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes.  Then slip off the skins and remove the stem.  I used a potato masher to smush them in with the leeks.  Cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Add water and bring to a boil.  (The amount of water was dependant on my pot.  I could only fit 3 cups but the original recipe called for 6.)
  6. Stir in sweet potatoes, lentils, thyme, salt pepper, basil, spinach, and allow to simmer until lentils are tender.  Approx 30 minutes.
  7. Serve!

 


Curried Lentil Soup – Amazing Intro to Lentils!


This soup was the best introduction to lentils!  Not only is it delicious and spicy, but it is beyond easy to make.  So easy in fact, that I have made it a couple of times before I got to blogging about it!

 You will find the recipe written out at the bottom of this post.

So, my adventures into the world of lentil soup began like this….a collection of ingredients.  I should note here that the second time around, I added ingredients to the recipe which included a chopped zucchini, cubed potato and a dash of garam masala.

The recipe specified the need for green lentils.  So before I even began to create this soup, I learned that red lentils and green lentils are very different and serve different purposes.  For this soup I highly recommend green lentils as they maintain their shape even after becoming tender.  The original recipe calls for a medium carrot…but a bag of small ones is all I had on hand so I made a “medium carrot”….

The onion and ‘medium’ carrot are to be chopped and sautéed until tender, along with half of your garlic and a bit of oil.

A quick note about garlic:  When I see garlic listed in a recipe…I tend to ignore the # of cloves it calls for.  Instead, I think about how much garlic I am in the mood for…when is the last time I had some yummy garlic…how much garlic do I have in the kitchen…and then I cut up a ton of it!  So feel free to follow the suggested 3 cloves in the recipe (which is technically inaccurate as the original recipe called for 2!) or decide how garlicky you wish to be and just go with it!

Once the sautéing veg/garlic is tender, add your curry powder and stir it slightly so as to cover everything.

 It’s at this point that you add your lentils and water (all but 1/4 cup) and bring everything to a boil.  The moment it hits boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 45 minutes-ish…until your lentils are as tender as you want them.

In my last blog entry, I commented on multi-tasking in the kitchen and how I’m discovering that practice is desperately needed to do so effectively.  Well, this soup allows for a fairly structured, non-chaotic multi-tasking.

While your soup simmers … oh, which will look like this by the way:

You move to the other side of your kitchen and start preparing the second half of this awesome dish!

It is my opinion that this second half of the recipe is absolutely imperative!  I’m sure the soup would be lovely once simmered, but likely somewhat watered down.  When you add the following mixture, the soup acquires this yummy creaminess that enhances the flavours and warms the palate.

In a separate dish, add your chickpeas, lemon juice, water, remaining garlic (or hey, chop up more! :D) and oil.

 

Ensure the dish is fairly deep because, as you can see, you’re about to blend it all together and I know (sadly, from experience) that the deeper=the better=less mess!

Post-blended ... very hummus-like!

Once you have a well-blended mixture … which looks and smells quite a bit like hummus … you add it to the finished soup along with a dollop of butter.  Yeah, I said dollop.  I like my butter like I like my garlic.  In huge amounts! 😉

This mixture thickens the soup and adds a new dynamic to the smell and the taste.  I find it hard to put into words but  let’s just say that this soup is a perfect winter soup.  It makes you want to curl up with a good book in your cozy papasan chair (Don’t have one?  Go!  Go now! I’ll wait. *grin*), preferably in front of a fire…if you have the option…and simply relax.

Once added and stirred in, your soup is complete!

My first completed pot of soup

My second batch...not quite as thick as the first.

I have enjoyed eating this soup with buttered rye bread, as well as crackers dipped in hummus (specifically masala hummus….soooo good!) and it also freezes extremely well. So prepare for winter by freezing a few batches of this lovely soup and for goodness sake, go get yourself a comfy papasan chair!


CURRIED LENTIL SOUP

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp (or more) curry powder
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • 1 large can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

NOTE: The second time I made this soup, I added zucchini, potato and some garam masala spice.  It turned out just as lovely as the first time so I encourage you experiment with the recipe!

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over med heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add half of the garlic and continue stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to brown slightly.
  5. Add 2 tbsp curry powder and stir for another minute until fragrant and vegetables are covered.
  6. Add lentils and 4 cups of water.
  7. Increase heat to bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer until lentils are tender, 3o-45 minutes, depending.
  8. While your lentils simmer, use a hand blender and puree the chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining garlic and oil.
  9. When lentils are tender, add the chickpea mixture and butter to the soup.
  10. Season to taste using salt, pepper, curry powder.
  11. Serve in a bowl garnished with green onions slices.

    Source: I am presently hunting for the magazine article that provided me with this amazing recipe.  Once found, I will most definitely be crediting the person who wrote it.

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