Sunday, January 24, 2010

Green lentil soup

This article on the health benefits of soup came at the right time yesterday as I was deciding to experiment a bit in the kitchen. In December, I had made a green lentil soup the conventional way -- toss ingredients into a pot, boil, and then simmer. The result was good, if not a little bland, and I made a mental note to revisit this soup again in the future. The future arrived on Saturday and this time, with a whole afternoon stretching in front of me, I decided to experiment with a slow cook lentil soup.

Now I don't have a crock pot (well, a tiny one, but that one is reserved for oatmeal), only an electric stove. Luckily, the stove has a setting between 1 and Off called "Lo" and for the most part, that's what I kept the stove on for the 3 hours I was cooking the soup. I'm sure a gas stove would probably be better for something like that. The point is to avoid boiling the soup and to allow the flavors to seep in and also retain the nutritional value of the soup.

Anyway, the soup came out very rich, flavorful and the veggies were perfectly cooked. I would recommend checking in on the soup every 10 to 15 minutes or so to stir it and check on the "doneness" of the veggies. The recipe below makes about 3-4 servings or so. I served it over basmati rice for a hearty winter's dinner.

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, dices
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 baby red potatoes, diced
2 cups dry green lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sautee onions in butter until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt.

Still on medium heat, add celery, carrots, and potatoes. Stir. Add salt and pepper if needed. Cover for 3-5 minutes.

Add lentils and tomatoes. Stir well. Add vegetable broth and bay leaf. Stir well. Lower heat to lowest possible setting and cover. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes.

The soup should cook within 2 to 3 hours. Salt and pepper to taste, or add tabasco for additional spiciness if needed. Serve as a soup or over rice for a one-dish meal. Enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010


When I stepped off the plane Sunday afternoon, I smelled like I'd been on the road for 30+ hours. I couldn't even stand myself. I actually felt sorry for screeners in Paris who had to frisk me down and search my bags but I didn't know how to apologize for the ultimate fail of deodrant and perfume and the lack of toothpaste/mouthwash. In the end, I followed a combination of adages to assuage my guilt: a) they are probably used to stinky travelers like me by now and b) I'm most probably never going to see the screener in question again.

This past week has been all about recovering from jetlag, which is the most awesome thing when you have to go to work first thing Monday. I was up at an ungodly hour and was actually on time at work. In fact, I do enjoy it a bit -- get up, play a little Civilization, drink a little coffee, do a little dance... you know the drill. I have managed to get through every day pretty soberly but with the edge of irritation slipping into my mood as the evening hours approach. I was told that it takes one day for every hour of difference and so it'll probably be February before I'm completely myself again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home Sweet Home

After 30 plus hours of traveling, I'm home! I've been away for 3 weeks -- longest vacation I've had since graduate school. It feels kind of weird coming back to reality, but all good things must come to an end. So I'm back. Where I've been etc., will be chronicled in this blog later on this month or so -- as soon as I sufficiently recover from jetlag and the lingering remnants of various ailments I picked up along the way. Also, need to face the work day tomorrow; going to be tough considering how long I've been gone, and how many hours I'm "out of phase".