Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Sunday Soup Bowl

Andy and I sat down with three of our cookbooks last night and decided our grocery trip today would include the ingredients for several meals this week.  I have had dried lentils in the pantry for several weeks and although I love lentil soup I wasn't quite sure how to go about preparing them and using them.  When I saw a recipe in the Taste of Home Cookbook I bought at the used bookstore last week that featured lots of things we had on hand and lentils I decided to go for it.  It was incredibly delicious and filling and it will definitely be a part of our regular menu planning.

I modified it a little due to the fact that I read the instructions wrong (I was only supposed to use 4 oz. of smoked sausage - whoops) and I didn't have a something I was sure I had (cumin), and I just wanted more vegetables.  I also added more of the chicken base because I knew I'd need it for the extra veggies and I used pre chopped frozen onion because I didn't need the crying today with my already pounding headache.

In my version there is 12 oz. of sliced smoked sausage by American Craft (which was delicious, but I'll stick to Hilshire Farms in the future because I didn't care for the papery casing on this brand).  I added more carrots, celery stalks and spinach (an extra carrot, stalk and cup of fresh chopped spinach), as well as 6 cups of hot water with about 2 Tbsps of chicken base dissolved in it.  Since I didn't have cumin I added a 1/4 teaspoon of hot paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and herb seasoning mix in addition to the black pepper and oregano.  I topped it with a tiny bit of a shredded Italian cheese blend and a few croutons in lieu of the several crackers I usually eat with a bowl of soup.  I also put in several dashes of Worcestershire sauce instead of measuring it out.  That late addition really added a ton of complexity to the flavor since I was tasting it along the way.  This doesn't need any salt - the broth and the sausage took care of the seasoning.

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Lentils turned out to be really easy to use and completely unintimidating.  I had read several times that you had to sort lentils before you cooked with them and I wasn't quite sure what that meant.  I went to my trusted friend Google to find out and instead of saying "check for small pebbles or burnt pieces" the first site I visited had a mile long explanation involving tweezers, spectrometers, and metric calipers.  Although I'm sure this would be very satisfying to my obsessive compulsive side it made me a little upset that I was so stupid as to have googled it in the first place.  If nothing else cemented my "you don't know anything about cooking" feelings today, it was being mocked for trying to learn something new.  I'm glad I didn't let it get to me, because the soup was ultimately really yummy, easy to make and something I think a lot of people would enjoy.  I hope that you share a bowl with the people you love soon.

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