Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Love Food: Mediterranean Lentil Soup

I don't usually post my cooking attempts on this blog, mostly because it's just not about adoption, but, I thought that this particular post was interesting because of the reason behind my dabbling with soup. I have a newly found but very strong contempt for canned soup, boxed soup (unless it's preservative free or organic) and any kind of commercial soup like Safeway or QFC soups in those deli containers. At restaurants I don't really care, because I don't see where it comes from and I LOVE SOUP! Why do I despise good old Campbell's and Progresso? WHY? The soup tastes like the can and I usually have to do something to it to make it taste the way I want it to. I do still love Campbell's tomato soup. I always will love it. But aside from the tinny taste, the preservatives are enough to make me shiver. Not to mention the sodium levels! I can't say that I don't put salt in my soup when I make it, because I do, but…I also see everything else that goes into the pot. There is no MSG, no titanium dioxide and only the "Good fats" that I purposely select for their values. I was shocked to see MSG on the can of a Progresso soup that I used to love, but always wondered why it gave me headaches. DUH. I really try not to over-read labels. Not because I don't care, but because sometimes there is really no time to make things from scratch. This is only one of the reasons I LOVE Trader Joe's markets. All of their stuff is usually on the short list of preservatives and usually preservative free or organic.

I'm not exactly the most "Natural" girl in the world; I'm not one to really be on the side of things that I consider to be high on marketing and low on science. I'm not a 100% recycler, I don't compost my food waste, and sadly, I often leave lights on and the water running when I brush my teeth. (LE GASP! HORROR!) But, in the case of soup, I stand determined, that once I am at home with my kiddo, there will be no canned soups in my pantry. My freezer will be full of homemade soups that I will make while said kiddo is napping, or while daddy is home!

I'm also going to "TRY" to make my baby's food. I have a cookbook, I have ice cube trays and we're getting a second fridge to accommodate my desire to make my own soup and bb food. If Kate Gosselin can do it, I know I can! With planning and my very cooperative husband, I think I can figure out a system to cook and freeze as I go. Double batches here and there will make it work! I don't quilt, I don't have a ton of time consuming hobbies like Scrapbooking or stamping or anything crafty for that matter. I spend my creative time writing and cooking! So, even if I'm throwing myself under the bus; I'm going out on a limb and saying that I hope to never use canned soup or jarred baby food in my house. *gets down from soap box* And soup is really easy to make, if you can chop, and boil water, you can make soup.

I modified this recipe from this one I found on the web. I haven't explored this site very much, so I'm not sure exactly how reputable they are, I usually snoop around and compare recipe's that I know with the ones they have posted, but in this case, I just looked at a couple of different sites' recipe's and decided this one was easy enough to put my own spin on. I've been visiting a Mediterranean place for lunch with the girls from work and the Lentil Soup is fabulous, this one sounded like a similar flavor, so I dove in!

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped into a medium dice

  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped into a small dice

  • 2 and 1/2 cups green/brown lentils

  • 6 cups water (I used 4 cups chicken broth plus 2 cups water.)

  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice (I used twice as much all spice, because I love the flavor)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspooon cinnamon

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed and mixed with 1 Tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

    Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, then stir in the onion and sauté until it begins to brown. Stir in the red pepper and sauté two more minutes. Stir in the lentils, coating with the oil, then pour in the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes. Stir in the allspice, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper, re-cover, and cook for 20 more minutes.

    In the meantime, prepare the garlic blend. If you don't want to press the garlic, you can always puree it with the oil and water in a blender. When you are ready to serve, and after at least 20 minutes have passed, stir in the chopped cilantro. Turn off the heat, stir in the garlic blend, and cover, letting the flavors steep for a minute or two. Stir in the lemon juice, check the seasoning, and get ready to serve. Top with grated mizithra cheese.

1 comment:

Pete and Rosie said...

Hey I was just sort of randomly clicking through some of your posts and I just wanted to say I hope you do make your own baby food!!!! We loved making it for our kids. The shelf stuff just can't compare. Good luck!