Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Story of the Lentils

Let's go back though to January and the first (and only) time I visited Scott in Michigan before I moved here. As we planned our weekend over the phone he asked if there was anything in particular I would like him to pick up at the grocery store. Of course I said yes and gave him a small list. Later in the week we were talking and he mentioned getting the groceries, the lentils being particularly challenging to find. Wait, what? The lentils, I had "asked for", they were hard to find, but with some help he managed to get them. Well, let me tell you, I did not ask for lentils. He thinks I did, but I did not! Either way, that weekend we made dinner, but not with lentils! They remained in the cupboard for the last 4 months, a source for many jokes between us over that time. Last Sunday as I planned out our first week of meals I looked through his pantry. There it was, a bag of green lentils and figured those must be part of the plan. Lentil soup was something I knew I could make without a recipe. So, on Wednesday night we had on a big pot of lentil soup with rosemary-olive oil bread (a Britt favorite!). We both had soup for lunch the following day and I froze a quart of it for later; I do not know how to make a small pot of soup!

I'm sitting here in my chair at Scott's house, basking in the rays of sun and the quiet around me. I think I'm discovering just how much I like alone time (shh, don't tell him that!). It's beautiful outside and I'm gearing up to head out to the nursery for some plant starts, inspired by the weather of course. There's a head cold working it's way through me, so only low impact trips today. Maybe I'll sit on the balcony for a little while first. Yeah, that sounds good.
Still to come... posts on Rye-Sotto, and Quinoa-Rice Milk breakfast "porridge". I have yet to locate my Grain Girls book in amongst my packing. I know I put it somewhere "easy to find", so of course I can't find it!

Lentil Soup, makes about 3-4 quarts
1.5 cups lentils, soaked for about 30 minutes to an hour
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots, small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 bell pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, 28oz (I like fire roasted for added flavor)
Chicken or Vegetable Stock, 1 quart
Water, as much as needed (see below)
Herbs (fresh or dried) Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Cooked pasta, I used Orecchiette Rigate - "little ears" (optional, & gluten free without pasta)

-Heat a large pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, sweating for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds before adding the carrots, celery and bell pepper. Cook all the veggies for about 10 minutes.
-Add the can of tomatoes, the stock, the lentils and enough water so everything is submerged with room to spare. The lentils will soak up the liquid and you may need to add more. Add your herbs, spices and another large pinch of salt (seasoning throughout cooking ensures great flavor) and bring it up to a boil.
-Turn down to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Taste the soup and continue cooking only until the lentils are not gritty. Season to taste. Serve over cooked pasta and with Rosemary-Olive Oil loaf (a Brittany fav!) like we did.

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