Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Love Saturday Morning

To begin with, I have nowhere to run. I can make a leisurely breakfast, or I can reheat soup and make cupcakes. I can sit and type, or I can do several loads of dishes. The coffee tastes better. The counters look cleaner. Whatever I do, my progress is of my own choosing, and I feel happy, like Mark's plant, reaching joyfully for the sun.

This morning I made the cupcakes for Burgundy's party tonight, and Burgundy spent a few minutes putting away her books, bags, and props for yesterday's science fair. We really did have soup for breakfast, too.

Last night I made white bean and kale soup with kale I'd bought at the Houston Farmers' Market last Tuesday with Hannah. The recipe, from the absolute must-have book Greens Glorious Greens, is incredibly simple and wonderfully tasty. I omitted the three cups of butternut squash and added extra kale and an extra can of beans. I love butternut squash as much as the next gal, I promise, but I didn't have any on hand and didn't want to leave the house in pursuit of it; not to mention that I'd then have to use the rest of the squash on something. It called for about half a squash. Regardless, it was delicious and fairly intuitive.

Basically, saute onions in olive oil until they're translucent. Add garlic, curry, and cumin and saute for a minute or two longer. Add the beans, reserved bean "stock" plus vegetable stock, fresh marjoram or basil (I used marjoram because it has taken over Mark's garden, choking out everything else he wants to grow including the basil), butternut squash (I think you could also use potatoes or sweet potatoes), and cook it for about 10 minutes. Add the kale and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Honestly, it's a little too late in the year for such a hearty soup, but it tasted so good. Ironically, it felt a little sinful because it was so rich. I suspect my experience has more to do with my body's absolute craving for the nutrients in kale than with the actual taste of the soup. I found myself daydreaming about fish tacos with lightly steamed kale yesterday. I'm sure the family is glad I went for soup instead.

And another recipe. This one is all mine, so I can give you the exact amounts and tell you just how I make it. Except that as with any "all mine" recipe, it's a little bit of whatever I have on hand at the time.

Lentil soup is our go-to meal. Very seriously, this is one of the most important staples of our diet. I rather suspect that kale or mustards would make a really good addition as a throw-in ingredient, so if they're in season where you are, give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Lentil Soup

  • 1 onion
  • Olive oil (I just pour until it looks right. Don't skimp though! I was stunned at the difference it made the first time I used all the oil a recipe called for.)
  • Garlic (1-2 cloves depending on mood, body odor concerns, and general household health)
  • Cumin
  • Parsley
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Curry (I've never added this before, but it was amazing in the soup last night, so I'm definitely trying it next time)
  • 5 - 7 Carrots, peeled and roughly sliced. 
  • About a pound of lentils - I buy 25 pounds of lentils at a time, and I don't measure a pound every time I need one. Instead, I have one of those 16 oz plastic Dixie cups that holds just shy of 1 pound of lentils. So I pour one full Dixie cup of lentils into the pot.
  • Chicken or vegetable stock - maybe 6 - 8 cups depending; I eyeball it. I measure 8 cups of water, pour it in until the lentils and veggies are swimming, and figure out how much I added based on how much is left. Then I add the appropriate amount of powdered bouillon.

Saute the onion in the olive oil until it's translucent. Add the garlic and whatever other herbs/spices you want to use and saute another minute or so. Whatever you do, don't go buy a bunch of those spices if you weren't going to use them anyway. I almost never use everything I listed up there. Sometimes it doesn't even get garlic. Just throw in whatever you have. That's just how this soup rolls. A hint: if you're using fresh herbs, don't saute them now. Throw them in with the lentils, water and carrots.

Pour in a bit of the water/stock and use it to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the carrots and lentils and pour in the rest of the water/stock (add the bouillon now if you're doing that instead of true stock). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender. Serve over brown rice or over boiled potatoes. Honestly, the brown rice probably is better, and I haven't had it over boiled potatoes. It's just an idea I've had floating around.

This also could be good with leeks (I'd saute them with or instead of the onions and according to my dad, I should omit the garlic), with various dark leafy greens, and it might be good to try the squash or sweet potatoes instead of the carrots. I also occasionally throw in diced tomatoes with the lentils and water if I happen to have a can in the pantry or if I have a couple in the fridge that are about to go bad.

Lentils are incredibly forgiving, so use this as a base recipe and try anything. Let me know what you try and whether it works!
Finally, Mark attacked the back yard this morning and it looks so good. 

As a bonus, we found wild mustard greens growing out there! How exciting is that! Can't wait to serve 'em up with some sauteed leeks and white wine. Yum!


  1. Your post is making me so hungry!

    Thank you for the lentil recipe. I currnetly have some lentils sprouting on my counter and was wondering what I was going to do with them when they are done. Now I know :)

    I'm so jealous of the sunshine. It's still cold, wet, and dreary in Ohio.