Archive | January, 2010

Syrian Lentil and Chard Soup

26 Jan
Alayna: Swiss chard tastes like everything I love about the jungle when it rains (don’t post that on the blog)

Soupsters, meet our new friend Mr. Swiss Chard. What’s one of my favorite things about Monday’s Soups you ask? It’s getting to know new vegetables that I used to be scared of and would avoid in the market. And then getting to know them so well I start to call them by names (think Ernst the Eggplant).

Last week, somewhat impulsively, I was meandering around Whole Foods when I noticed they had big leafy bunches of swiss chard. Even though it was a Saturday (aka not Monday) I bought it and immediately texted Alayna. You see Alayna and I have been occasionally swapping in kale for chard because sometimes it’s difficult to find chard. I think deep down inside we both knew we were sort of avoiding chard because we are both creatures who do not like change (not “change” as in living in a different cultures/meeting new people, but “change” as in not eating an apple at exactly 11am every morning. We’re Virgos, it’s a weakness.). Regardless, I should have tried chard earlier. I am hyper aware that it’s so freaking healthy for you. So why on earth was I scared of a leafy vegetable that tastes like our natural habitat, it’s way up my alley… I am proud to say that today my friends, we are no longer chard virgins.

Last night, as Alayna and I very happily enjoyed this WONDERFUL soup and said how much we love chard we mused how last time this year we met Ms. Kale. To think a year ago I didn’t cook with kale. Ah. Mazing. How did I eat kale chips? What did I add to stews? I have no idea.

I sense Swiss (and Rainbow) chard will enter my life with the same sustainability and joy– yes, joy– as kale has. Man, do I love leaves.

Lastly, enjoy rainbow chard’s red stems! I might have had a little freak when Alayna added them to the soup and I thought Red = Poison. But yeah, I’m a neurotic nutbag and we’re both still ticking today.

Syrian Lentil and Chard Soup

*Little known fact, although I have measuring cups, I mostly just measure things in mugs. Not sure why, but it’s true. Also: still don’t have measuring spoons… don’t find it impedes baking at all
** This soup apparently is supposed to be served cold, although it was delicious warm

  • in a smaller pot, put two mugs of green lentils in with 2 mugs of water and one mug of chicken broth (or all water if your vegan/veg), cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more broth or water as necessary to keep it pretty liquid
  • after about twenty minutes of pot one cooking, chop up about 6 cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil, adding one chopped yellow onion and 4 chopped celery sticks when the garlic gets fragrant (about 5 minutes)
  • tear two bunches of rainbow (or regular) swiss chard into pieces and chop up the stems, rinsing before you put them into the pot
  • when the onion and celery are getting translucent, add the chard to the big pot and cook covered for about 5-7 minutes until wilted
  • add in the lentils and stir in the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste and more chicken broth or water to get it to a soupy consistency
  • Let it all simmer together a few more minutes and enjoy!
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Vegan Ethiopian Magic Meal

20 Jan
Diners of the week!

Friday dinner’s is BACK with a vengeance! I am finally done with my grad school applications and realized that, you know, I have friends. So this weekend I invited over some people I know from Amigos de las Americas, a volunteer organization I’ve been working with for about a decade. They’re all wonderful adventurers with great stories, and, more importantly tend to like things like ‘nature’ and ‘vegetarianism’.

Now, because AMIGOS vegetarians have a lot of experience eating in other people’s houses in North, Central and South America while working on development projects (and usually those other people don’t have a ton of extra food to go around) I think they are a little different from other vegetarians because they’ll eat pretty much whatever you put in front of them. That said, when someone says they are “veggie with vegan leanings”, I take them seriously.

And so I present…. a totally vegan Ethiopian feast. Most entertaining part? You lay the ingera (traditional Ethiopian flatbread) on your plate and ladle your stew onto it, then use another piece as a spoon/fork. No silverware needed! I will say, I wasn’t going to make ingera at all because it looked too hard/time-consuming until my wonderful co-worker Jolie suggested just buying some from my local Ethiopian restaurant…. brilliant girl, that Jolie. And I’m pretty sure my hand-purchased bread tasted a lot better than my hand-made would have.

So without further ado, the stews that celebrated international soup day!

Also, these portions could have served eight people.

Green Lentil Stew

• Rinse about 2 cups of lentils then place in a large saucepan with 2 cups of water, 1 large white onion chopped, 6 chopped cloves of garlic, and some generous shakes of red chile. Also add teaspoon, nutmeg, cardamom salt and pepper
• Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until lentils and soft and onions have more or less disintegrated. Stir periodically and add more water if needed.
• Add in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (or red wine, which is what you’re actually supposed to do and cook for 10 more minutes… add more salt and pepper if needed
• …. keep it cooking for another hour or so if you want, but on a simmer. It will make the lentils nice and soft, and you won’t have to think about them!

Sweet Potato Stew

• Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté one large chopped onion, 6 pieces of chopped garlic, and about two inches of chopped ginger for 10 minutes, until onion is a nice golden color.
• Add 3-4 chopped sweet potatoes and one roughly red pepper and sauté for 1 min.
• Add a mix of paprika, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, and some ground fenugreek and fry for 1 minute. Don’t worry about things sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add 1.5 cups of water to deglaze the pan, then add 2 tomatoes, half a cup of lentils, and two big handfuls of chopped green beans. Mix well.
• Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally. It is even better of you can let it cook on a low heat for an hour or two. Add more water if stew gets too thick.
• Stir in a handful of parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper

Eggplant Stew

• Heat a large non-stick pan (cast iron preferred) over medium heat. Add in 3 smallish red onions (chopped) onions and fry for 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until a nice golden brown. When onions stick too much, deglaze the pan with a splash or two of water.
• Add in 3 chopped cloves of garlic, about an inch of chopped ginger, and a mixture of allspice, pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, and chile powder (also known as a bastardized version of berbere, which is a real Ethiopian thing) and mix well, until spices are fragrant.
• Add in ¼ cup of margarine. When it melts, add one large carrot (diced) and one large eggplant (thinly sliced). Fry for 5-7 minutes, until eggplant begins to soften.
• Add two tomatoes, about 1.5 cups of water, and two handfuls of chopped green beans and mix well. Bring to bubbling, then loosely cover and let simmer. The lentils will cook in 20 to 30 minutes, but you can cook longer. Salt and pepper to taste.


Happy dining (and soup day!) friends!

Cock-a-Leekie Soup (yes that’s a real name)

20 Jan

So this weekend my dear friend and fellow-blogger Mary-Lorraine left me to my own devices for not one, but TWO blog-meals. She went to the wilds of Vermont DESPITE Friday being national soup day AND Monday being Martin Luther King day, which, like all no-work Mondays, is a day of extra complicated (or at least long) souping. And sometimes bread baking. I know, intense.

The upshot was that I had a wonderful weekend with some friends I don’t normally see. Friday I hosted Alexa, Elizabeth and Drew (all former Amigos volunteers and incredibly entertaining) for a vegan Ethiopian feast that featured not one, not two, but three stews and some hand-purchased-from-a-restaurant traditional bread, and then Monday Lindsay came over to share some Martha Stewart inspired cock-a-leekie soup with home-made rolls from Kate’s Mom’s recipe. Deeeelicious.

You’ll have to check Friday’s Dinners for the Ethiopian food, but here is some good old chicken soup with a twist of… prunes? Don’t worry, it was delicious.


Cock-a-Leekie Soup

This soup starts in the afternoon, so make sure you’ve got enough time on your hands!!!
• Start off my taking a 3-4 lb chicken and put it in a dutch oven. Chop one onion into eighths, two large carrots into big sized chunks, about 4 celery sticks and peel about 6 cloves of garlic. Arrange them all around the chicken except two of the garlic cloves.
• Stuff a bundle of fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano into the body cavity of the chicken (check to make sure they don’t have the bagged intestines inside… gross, but important) with the two cloves of garlic, and spread a smaller bundle around with the onions and carrots. Sprinkle the whole she-bang with salt and pepper.
• Cook on very low heat for about two hours
• When the chicken is cooked, let it cool off for a little bit and then pull it, the veggies and any herbs out of the pot, leaving any liquid in the bottom of the dutch oven and set aside
• Put about four pints of broth into the pot and bring to a simmer
• Add half a cup of barley (dry), about 7 leeks (white and light green parts only) lightly chopped and about fifteen dried and pitted prunes cut into quarters. Cook for about forty minutes until the barley is cooked through
• While the soup is cooking, let the chicken and reserved veggies cool…. roughly chop them and set them aside. De-bone the chicken, discarding the skin and keeping the bones to make broth later, and shredding the meat into bite-sized pieces.
• Once the barley is cooked through, add the veggies and about half of the chicken meat back into the soup, along with a handful of fresh parsely
• Simmer for about ten more minutes and eat!

Egg Buns (From Kate’s mom)

This is another one that takes a while! Just so you know!
• Soften 2 teaspoons of dry yeast in 2 tablespoons of warm (not hot) water. Let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
• Beat 2 eggs, 5/8 cup of whole milk and 1/3 cup melted butter together. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar and yeast mixture. Stir well.
• Slowly beat in flour, first a cup, then in half cup increments or less. The MOST you should use is 3 cups, but you might not need it all. When dough is no longer runny, turn it out onto a well-floured surface (really put a lot of flour on there, not just a dusting) and knead for 10 minutes. Add more flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the surface, but try to use as little flour as possible. You want your dough to be very tender and soft, like a baby’s bottom, not stiff.
• Put dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a moist cloth or plastic wrap, and set in a warm place for 1- 1.5 hours until it has doubled in size. If you stick your finger in the dough and the depression bounces back, let it rise a bit more.
• Turn the dough out onto the floured surface (just a dusting this time) and cut into 12 equal pieces. Form each into a roll and place on a baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal (or greased with oil or butter) about 1” – 2” apart. Cover the rolls with the cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until double in size (same test with your finger).
• Bake in preheated oven at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until brown.

National Soup Day: Jan 15

14 Jan

BREAKING NEWS!


In the world of soup, not that much happens that is so jaw-dropping I have to post on a THURSDAY. Well folks, something just did. Let me share an email I received just moments ago.

Lesley Anne Stalvey: “im sure you’re aware, but i read friday is national soup day.”

NO LESLEY, I WAS NOT AWARE. But it’s true! Check out this captivating piece of journalism, thanks NBC Philadelphia.


So as I finish my leftover bowl of turnip soup at lunch I sit back, smile, and wonder what soups I’ll have for all three meals tomorrow in celebration.

Happy holidays.

Turnip Soup

12 Jan

Email chain:
Alayna: remember how i facebook stalk people before 8am? i am creeper.
ML: hahah. it’s kewl. i have a bag of spinach and bread and my soup jar right next to me.
Alayna: i have parsnips and radishes and an onion
ML: we are bunnies
Alayna: we could make a costume

If I gmail search “soup” I get “hundreds” of past emails and gchats. As does Alayna. I decided to search back to see what my first “soup” email was. An archival tour, friends.

…Well, that took me 20 minutes. I have 754 emails with the keyword “soup.” And my first was in Thailand when Caitlyn was talking about how much soup she has to eat with a chicken blood base. My first “soup” conversation with Alayna had to do with her just eating veggie soup because she was sick but had a job interview. We’ve come a long way.

Either way, we have moved our attention to turnips. Turnips are high in dietary fiber and low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Plus they have protein and a lot vitamins. I did a little google search while the soup simmered. I always fight not to peal turnips. My rule of thumb is that peels are good for you. Does anyone know if this is ridiculous? I have no idea.
Either way, good soup. If you decide not to add spinach then it would be a white soup, which Alayna and I thought would be very exciting.

Spoons up.

Turnip Soup!

  • melt about 1/4 stick of butter in your soup pan
  • add 3-4 chopped yellow onions, and cook until soft
  • add about 5-6 chopped red potatoes and 9 chopped small turnips and stir into the pot, stirring to coat with butter, adding ground nutmeg, chili powder and ground red chili to taste
  • cover with broth, bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are soft (about twenty minutes)
  • add a few handfuls of spinach
  • blend and serve! (even better with shredded cheese on top!)

Chicken Curry Soup

5 Jan

Wait, who’s that cupping her soup bowl? Oh right, it’s our old friend and roommate KZim, traveling across the county from sunny Berkley to the frozen tundra of the Lower East Side to join us in soup night. Not so much has changed since Kate decided to run away to a place of higher education, golden prospects, and life coaches, well except Zizi cat is enormous… As I write that out I am acutely aware Alayna is going to protest that I delete that line. And I won’t.

You know why I won’t? Because while everyone ate their warm soup I was forced into manual labor, sanding away a spice rack until my hands bled. I have a welts on my once soft, indoor kid hands to prove it. So now I’m getting my revenge and am telling the whole world, little baby Zizi isn’t so little anymore. But I love her more for it. I love fat cats. We all remember blessed Big Boy Snauffer don’t we?

So hurray for this soup. Put the word “curry” in a soup title and I think it’s going to be a lardy mess of goodness–fatty goodness. This is not that sort of curry soup. There isn’t a dairy product to be found- just curry powder. It’s tasty and super healthy. So indulge in this non-indulgence. Even Zizi can have a few licks.

Chicken Curry Soup

  • roughly chop one large yellow onion and saute in olive oil
  • also roughly chop one large sweet potato, three turnips and 5-7 large carrots, to add once the onion is getting translucent.
  • sprinkle generously with garam masala and curry powder and stir until all veggies are covered
  • cover in chicken or veggie broth and bring to a low boil, simmering for about 20 minutes
  • add two chopped apples
  • in a different pan, cook 3 chicken breasts in olive oil and set aside
  • once veggies are all soft, blend then together. add in chicken, and salt, pepper and lime to taste
  • serve!