Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting Carried Away

In my last post, I mentioned that I am largely a recipe-follower rather than a recipe-creator. This is a story of why I should probably stick with being the former. I decided to branch off on my own for a lentil soup and maybe it would have been better to rein it in a little. The result wasn't bad, but it may have been a little over the top.

It started with the fact that we had about a cup of cubed pumpkin left over from the risotto. I didn't want to waste it and, in thinking of ideas of what to do, I decided they might be good in a soup - and it has definitely been soup weather here. So, examining what all we had on hand (since snowy roads were not enticing for a trip to the store), lentil soup seemed to be the best option.

We had these beautiful lentils in the cupboard - from Draper Girls Farm. The red ones are called "red chief", the others didn't have a special name.

Here they are all mixed together in the pan for the first step of cooking the 3 cups of lentils.

Next is where I got into trouble. I started out reading the Moosewood recipe which suggested carrots, onions, and celery, all of which we had in the fridge. But, when I started looking in the fridge, I also found a bunch of sweet red and yellow peppers. We also had potatoes. So, here are the one onion, 2 ribs of celery, 2 big carrots, one potato and about a cup of chopped peppers - as they are sauteed briefly before going into the soup. All of these, by the way, except the celery, were locally grown and purchased at the farmer's market. At this point, I should have been suspicious about the quantity in this pan compared to the quantity of the lentils and their cooking water.

But, no, it all was so beautiful and looked delicious. For seasoning, I added salt, pepper, and cumin plus a little bit of fresh thyme that was left from some other meal. I need to mention that I had also browned some chicken basil sausages that we had on hand. By the time, I added all these "extras" to the lentils, it became more of a stew than a soup. I tried adding more liquid, but the soup pot was pretty close to full. And I had almost forgotten to add the cubed pumpkin which was the original reason for making this soup in the first place!

So, we had this soup on Monday evening and it was OK, but not great. Tonight, we'll have a second round and this time I can use a small amount of the "stew", add some broth and make it a little more soupy. Plus, the second time out is usually better anyway. Maybe next time, I'll try to confine myself to one version of a recipe and try not to get so carried away with emptying the refrigerator into one meal. But, on the other hand, I think it will end up to be an interesting and tasty meal and we'll probably have some left to freeze for future use.

Meanwhile, we're on day 3 of cold and snowy weather here in Portland. Having a snow day no longer has the thrill for me that it did while I was teaching. At this point, if I don't go to work, I don't get paid, so it's not actually such a great thing to be home these day. But, since I have no choice, I'm taking advantage of the time to make some more Christmas cookies, do some more knitting, and an assortment of odd jobs around the house. It's hard to complain.

Update after eating a second round of the soup:
It was much better on its second outing - after adding some broth, cooking longer and generally having time to do whatever it is that makes soup better the second time around.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a soup/stew! It looks beautiful. I am definitely the recipe follower! Tried a peanut sauce from memory the other day and it went very very wrong very very fast! Traci

Ann said...

3 cups of lentils strikes me as overkill... but i'm not the chef of this family... and i'm not that fond of lentils.. but still it sounds pretty tasty.

Anonymous said...

I love lentils, and your jars lined up so nicely have me jealous because I don't have a local source! Funny about being a recipe-follower, I am the exact opposite - when following a recipe things go to rot but when I "wing it" it comes out good, go figure. Your lentil soup sounds great to me, maybe it seemed over the top because of lots of different flavors? But so hearty that is...