The Pandemic Pantry -Lentil Soup

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She Who Must Be Obeyed reminded me again this morning of her Executive Order.  Last night’s dinner was a UFO (unidentified frozen object) that thankfully turned out to be chili.  And with some leftover cornbread from the freezer I was once again in compliance with the order to “clean out the freezer”.   A part of her Executive Order limits me to one grocery trip a week (with a mask, disinfectant wipes, and one store only).  This week’s trip was a calculated gamble on one of those tiny grocery sections housed within a burger/ice cream joint whose name will not be divulged for fear of possible legal action after they hear about this post.

Bad gamble.  I managed to find just five of the nearly 20 items on my list.  I did find some fresh spinach that wasn’t on the list.  A tiny win but I’ll take it.  This is going to be a tough week.  Less fresh foods and a heavier reliance upon pantry items and any remaining UFO’s.

I sauntered into my pantry multiple times and opened the freezer multiple times before I figured out what to make for lunch.  My flash of inspiration came from the jars of beans on the kitchen counter.  I had completely forgotten about the lentils.

Until today.  Here’s my Lentil Soup recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 very large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • garlic powder
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water and 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (approximate)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, lower the heat to medium and saute the carrot, onion and celery until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle thyme and garlic powder over the vegetables in the pan and saute briefly.
  3. Add lentils and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Drop the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils need more liquid.  Add one cup water and continue to simmer.
  5. Check and stir frequently.  Add either more water or broth to suit your taste.
  6. Adjust your seasonings.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Simmer for a total time of around one hour and 10 minutes.
  8. Serves four.
  9. Or two if you eat half, save the rest for another meal and eat sandwiches/tacos using leftover fillings from the freezer

Tips

Over time I’ve learned how important technique can be for turning out tasty food.  Note the chicken broth is used first, then water.  For a cup of dried lentils you will need about a quart of liquid.  I start with chicken broth (you can sub vegetable broth) and allow the lentils to absorb the broth, then add one cup of water.  The amount of additional liquid will depend upon your personal preferences.  My approach is to add additional broth slowly after the 2 cups broth, one cup water.  Most times I never approach a full quart of liquid.  I like my lentil soup thick.

That half of a fresh onion didn’t sit around long because I made Pete’s Fried Rice without any broccoli.  Instead of broccoli I used half of a green cabbage sliced into strips.  The fried rice turned out just fine.  You have to be flexible nowadays and don’t waste anything.

Here’s my updated list of pantry items.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Updated 04.06.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour tortillas

Stay safe, stay well.

I think I bought too many bay leaves though.

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Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice (aka Pete’s)

 

Pete’s Fried Rice

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3-4 C cold leftover rice
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 T canola oil in a nonstick wok over high heat.  Coat pan with the hot oil by twirling.
  3. Add the egg and fry until golden brown and curling on the edges.  Flip and brown the other side.  When cooked through, remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining canola oil to the wok, heat on high, and twirl your wok.
  5. Add carrots and broccoli, stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add onions and stir fry for a minute.
  7. Add rice and stir-fry while breaking up the clumps until rice is heated through.  Add more canola oil to prevent sticking, if needed.
  8. Turn heat down to medium-high.  Cut the eggs into large dice.  Add the peas, corn, and eggs to the work.  Stir constantly until the frozen vegetables are heated through.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. Add sesame oil.

 

There have to be as many versions of Fried Rice as there are cooks.  I wrote this line several years ago for another fried rice recipe.  I was making fried rice for dinner when suddenly I realized that one of my favorite fried rice recipes was not written down anywhere.  So after dinner I sat down at my computer and…

Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice!  Number One Son was a damn good soccer player and he had some damn good coaches.  Coach Ampaipitakwong was one of those coaches.  Watching Coach dribble was like watching a professional dancer. His son Ant went on to play professional soccer in Thailand.  But I digress.

At one of those pot luck soccer get togethers that kid soccer teams do all the time Coach Ampaipitakwong brought a tub of fried rice.  It was incredible!  And after years of producing clumpy bad fried rice, I finally got it down.  Here is my version of Coach’s fried rice.

Nobody could pronouce Ampaipitakwong correctly.  So we shortened his name to Coach Pete.  Pete’s Fried Rice.

Tips – The rice needs to be cold and leftover from the previous day or two.  Be daring and use different vegetables.  Add animal protein.  Add fried tofu.  On second thought, don’t add fried tofu.

May your fried rice never clump.

 

 

Scallion Fried Rice (add Rotisserie Chicken for #5 in the Series One Rotisserie Chicken – 50 Meals)

Scallion Fried Rice

4-6 fresh scallions (green onions)
2 eggs
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 T canola cooking oil
3 cups cooked rice (leftover and cold American Basmati)
2 tsp sesame oil

  1. Slice and separate white and green parts of scallions.
  2. Heat cooking oil in a nonstick wok over heat.  Coat pan with the hot oil by twirling.
  3. Add white parts of the scallions and saute about 1 minute.
  4. Add rice and stir-fry while breaking up the clumps until rice is heated through.  Add more canola oil to prevent sticking, if needed.
  5. Turn heat down to medium-high.  Push the rice to the sides of the wok, creating a well in the center.  Crack in the eggs and stir constantly while not allowing the egg to completely set up.  Gradually incorporate the rice until the egg is blended in well with the rice.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add sesame oil. Garnish with the remaining green tops of the scallions.

 

There have to be as many versions of Fried Rice as there are cooks.  Everyone has their favorite recipe and somewhere along the Path I started making this simple fried rice.  This rice makes an excellent side dish and can be made ahead of time and gently reheated.  The original versions I remember from my childhood had bits of dried Chinese sausage or char siu in the dish.  I’ve also encountered versions made with tiny bits of ham or bacon.  Here I present the ovo-lacto veggie version.

Tips – The rice needs to be cold, preferably leftover from the previous day.  Make fried rice with hot or warm rice and you will make a Giant Clump Fried Rice Ball.  Any white rice will do fine; we prefer the taste of American Basmati.  Better yet, use Texmati American Basmati.  I’ve tried other rices and it’s just not the same.  Now if you want to make a meal out of this fried rice, add some diced Rotisserie Chicken and you have Chicken Fried Rice.

That was easy.

Update 08.23.14

Two eggs, not one.  I’ve also changed the Tips to reflect the type of rice I use.