Fresh Paint
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Microwave Lentil Soup
By popular demand.

I seem to have developed a second (or third, or maybe fourth) career as a cookbook author. After having been a non-cook for most of my life ("living" on takeout and "Healthy" Choice, for example), in this past year have started cooking actual food, not for any health benefits, per se, but because 1) I got sick and tired of the bland and same flavoring and texture of everything that comes in a box and 2) when one of these 10 oz portions of crap rose over 4 bucks a box.

Gasoline pricing!

In the city we do have a fair number of alternatives to Jewel and Dominicks (the gold Cadillac of grocery stores). My favorite is Village Market Place on Dempster in Skokie. Everything is fresh and restocked constantly. Many of the prices are about half what you pay at Dominicks. Crops seem to rotate in and out along with the seasons -- watermelon gives way to apples (incredibly fresh right now and like 79 cents a pound).

They also package up interesting assortments of somewhat overripe fruits and vegetables for 69 cents a generously sized package of assorted stuff. Great for same day cooking, especially (sometimes you'll find something a little more than overripe tucked at the bottom).

And they have stuff you can't get anywhere else except for a lot of money, like cactus pears, which were going for 49 cents a pound last week.

The store is human-scaled (it used to be the Women's Workout World where I used to be a member), they apparently have more checkers than anywhere else, and I HAVE NEVER HAD TO STAND IN LINE. Not even on Friday afternoon before the Sabbath starts (this is a very Jewish community).

Anyway, I could go on and on about it, but the bottom line is that they don't have much of a frozen food or packaged food section (except for imports), so I'm not tempted to backslide into old habits.

All of this is long way around posting a simple recipe. Note: it's completely vegetarian and completely fat-free, unless you stir in a couple of good sized dollops of Greek-style yogurt for each serving, which I do.


-- wash, sort bag of lentils in cold water, put in Pyrex bowl big enough for it to expand at least three times and contain vegetables too

-- add about 5-6 cups of water

-- slice and add the following:
-- 1 largish onion
-- 2 medium-large carrots
-- 3 or 4 stalks of celery -- use the part near the bottom of a bunch -- just slice across all of them -- plus the tops

-- add spices (I don't measure, but this is about right):
-- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-- 1 bay leaf
-- 1/4 tsp oregano
-- 1/4 tsp rosemary
-- 1/4 tsp basil -- would be great with fresh basil, but I didn't have any
-- at least 1 tsp salt or more (I like salt)
-- 1/4 tsp black pepper

-- stir it all up, cook in microwave at 70 percent power for 30 minutes. I didn't cover it, since I don't have a good cover for my bowl

-- when timer is up, stir, fix seasoning, add more water if necessary (I had to add another 1 1/2 cups today)

-- cook in microwave another 20 minutes at 70 percent power.

This gives you a consistency that's mostly puree with about 30 percent lentils that still have some bite -- perfect.

As I said before, I like to stir in some yogurt into each serving (but store it plain).

Plus, of course, more salt and pepper (since, as my doctor would attest if I could afford a doctor, I like salt).

I then divide it up into Ziploc bags (when it's cooled) and stick in freezer or fridge.

This is how slow food becomes fast food.

I plan to use this base and add in other stuff over the coming days -- eggplant, sausage, maybe pumpkin -- found a recipe for pumpkin soup with lentils that sounds really good.


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