Monday, November 07, 2011

a winning recipe

Since being a stay-at-home mom, I've been investing more time and energy, and enjoying doing so, into meal planning and cooking. It has been a source of joy to find recipes that the whole family not only likes, but eats. We've noticed and heard that New Jersey is one of the most expensive places in the country to live. Thus, to find great recipes that are also cost effective is a plus.

I've discovered my new go-to soup recipe. It is easy to have all the ingredients always in the house. Another reason this soup is a winner: the kids LOVE it and eat a lot of it. So, it's an easy and pleasing lunch or with a loaf of nice bread, supper.

from The Soup Bible with my own revisions/remarks.
serves 4-6
Lentil and Pasta Soup
3/4 c brown or green lentils (not red! you want the lentils to retain shapes)
3 garlic cloves
4 cups water
3 Tbsp olive oil (I used all butter)
2 Tbsp butter
[1 onion (I omit this)]
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 Tbsp sun-dried tomato puree (I use extra, and I also puree my own so it's a little chunky)
7 1/2 c vegetable broth (I use water and add 1 Tbsp of vegetable Better than Bouillon)
a few fresh marjoram leaves (I use 1/2 tsp dried marjoram)
a few fresh basil leaves (I use 1/2 tsp dried basil)
leaves from 1 spring thyme (I use 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 c small pasta shape, such as tubetti (I used 1 c alphabet shapes - part of why kids loved it - , or brown rice or barley would work great, too!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put lentils in a large suacepan. Smash one of the garlic cloves and add it to the lentils. Pour in the 4 c water and bring to a boil/simmer for 20 mins till lentils are just tender.
2. Tip the lentils into a sieve, remove the cooked garlic clove and set it aside. Rinse the lentils with cold water. Leave them to drain.
3. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and half butter in a large saucepan. Add the [onion and the] celery and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until softened. Crush the remaining garlic and mash the reserved cooked garlic clove. Add to the vegetables with the remaining oil/butter, the tomato puree and lentils. Stir, then add the stock, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to boil, stirring. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the pasta and bring to boil again, stirring. Simmer, stirring frequently, for amount of time of pasta cook time (approx. 7-8 minutes). [If using rice or barley, add in step 4 so it can cook for 30 minutes.] Add remaining butter and adjust seasoning.

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