Butternut Squash Soup with Leeks, Kale, and Lentils

April 6, 2009

I’ve had a bunch of kale and squash in my freezer for weeks, and I decided to make use of it yesterday. This is what I made.

Ingredients:

3 leeks, washed, trimmed, and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks of celery, washed and chopped

small bunch of parsley, chopped

1-2 bay leaves

pinch of salt

half a butternut squash, cut into half inch cubes

colander full of kale, chopped

1 cup of lentils

1. Make the stock: Put the green parts of the leeks, the carrots, the celery, the bayleaf, the parsley and a little salt in a big pot. Add about eight cups of water, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat. Let the veggies simmer for about half an hour, taste for salt (if it’s too salty, add more water and simmer a little longer; if it’s not salty enough, add more salt), then strain the stock. (I put a colander in another big pot, pour everything in, then lift out the colander and discard all the boiled-to-death veggies).

2. Saute the white parts of the leeks in a little olive oil.

3. Put the leeks, squash, and lentils into the pot with the stock, bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat.

4. Once the squash is soft and the lentils are almost done (about 20 minutes), add the kale.

5. Keep cooking until the kale is done (about 10 minutes), then taste for salt. Add more water if you like – the water in the soup will evaporate while everything’s cooking, so you may need to add a cup or two of water once in a while. Alternatively, you can just let everything cook down into a stew and it will still taste good.

Update: my grandmother just called to say that she made this with a little vinegar and salt and pepper for extra flavor, and a little brown sugar for the butternut squash.

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Red Coconut Soup

February 3, 2009

coconut-lentils2

1. spices 2. coconuts 3. red lentils

My mother sent me the most divine soup recipe the other day. Here it is:

Olive oil or butter

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (vegetable bouillon cubes dissolved in water will do, or you can use the stock recipe I’ve posted after the jump)

2 big cans of crushed tomatoes (2 lbs. 4 oz. altogether)

1 can of coconut milk

1 cup of lentils

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil and butter for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Add everything else and cook for about thirty minutes, until the lentils are soft.

I had to make some substitutions as well as my own vegetable stock, since I didn’t have any bouillon cubes on hand. My version’s after the jump.

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Curried Sweet Potato-Ginger Lentil Soup

January 19, 2009

This is quite possibly the best soup I have ever made.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Vegetables: 2 onions, 1 chunk of ginger, 4 celery stalks, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip, 2 small sweet potatoes (or one very large sweet potato), 1 bunch of spinach

Spices: Curry, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt

Fats: Olive oil and butter (you can skip the butter if you like)

Lentils: Red (they look orange)

First, prep all the vegetables. Peel and chop the onions. Peel the ginger and cut part of it into thin slices (you want to end up with about 1/4 cup sliced ginger) and mince about 2 tablespoons worth of ginger. Peel and chop the carrots. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Wash the celery, chop off and discard the ends, and chop. Wash the spinach, chop off the stems, and chop up the spinach.

Second, make the stock. Saute half the chopped onion in olive oil. When the onion starts getting soft add the spices. I didn’t measure when I made this, but I would estimate that I used between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon each of the curry, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Basically, you want to give each spice a vigorous shake or two over the onions and you want all the onions to turn a nice golden color once you stir it all in. Now add the sliced ginger, carrot, celery, parsnip, and 8-9 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it all simmer for half an hour. Put a colander in another big pot, then pour the stock into it. The colander catches all the boiled veggie bits and the pot catches the stock.

Third, rinse out the original stock pot and saute some onions in it. You can use olive oil, butter, or a combination. When the onions start getting soft, add the minced ginger and a generous shake of curry, cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Once the onions are very soft, add the sweet potatoes, 1 cup of red lentils, and the stock. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat and let it simmer until the lentils fall apart and the sweet potatoes are very soft. Add the spinach and stir. Be sure to add water as the soup boils down – I think I ended up adding 3-4 cups by the time I was through.

Once the spinach is cooked, taste the soup to see if it needs more salt or more water. If you think you’ve added too much water, just keep cooking for a few more minutes, until the broth is nice and strong.


Laying in Stores for the Winter

January 13, 2009

There’s an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History where you can see everything that happens underground: moles tunneling up to eat tulip bulbs, earthworms slithering through the soil, tree roots  sending spiky little root-hairs out for water.

My favorite part of the exhibit is the chipmunk’s nest, which is filled with layers of leaves and acorns. The chipmunk sleeps on top of all her acorns, and when she wakes up after a long winter’s hibernation, her emergency food stash is right there waiting for her.

I’ve been feeling like the chipmunk ever since getting back to New York. I’ve laid in my stores for the winter – flour, grits, quinoa, oats, butter, oil, sugar, honey, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, apricots, prunes, pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, peanut butter, milk, eggs, and cheddar cheese – and I feel as secure as the chipmunk asleep on her acorns.

Last week, I made oatmeal bread, lentil soup, and brownies, cooked dinner with a friend, met a friend for a home-made lunch at her office, and felt smug every time I walked past a bakery with my empty wallet. It’s the dead of winter and the beginning of a recession, but I have my emergency stash right here.

Recipes after the jump

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