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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Herrera’s Bean Soup

The Boss is gone this weekend.  There was a sister get together and I wasn’t invited.  The Boss is a worrier.  She frets about leaving me home alone for the weekend.  I say worry not.  There’s simply something that must be done when The Boss is gone.

Make beans.  This weekend’s mini-project was to recreate the free cup of pinto bean soup you got with every meal at one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants.  I know the location we frequented in Carrollton Texas has closed.  Many of the chain’s locations have boarded up and I’m not sure if any have survived.  The Doctor always ordered 13b double beans, no rice.  Each family member has fond memories of the food.  I’m fairly certain there was plenty of lard but we’ll never know for sure.

I started with my basic Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal and used bacon slices to saute the vegetables.  Instead of the canned tomatoes I used a commercially bottled Salsa Casera medium from Mexico (seriously, this should have nailed it).

Nope.  The beans taste exactly like my pinto bean soup with bacon and some spicy tomatoes.  I have failed to replicate Herrera’s bean soup.

Now if I could just find out the brand of hot canned jalapenos Herrera’s used…

Wing and Leg Navy Bean Soup

I survived another Thanksgiving and managed to gain just 2/10th of a pound.  But I was unable to escape Texas without leftovers.

In the fridge there was a gallon size baggie with some white, some dark, one leg and one wing from the bird.  Thanksgiving was two days ago.  I had to do something or this would become cold turkey sandwiches (boring).  After a few minutes of anguish I had an idea…soup.

I almost called this recipe “A Wing and a Prayer” because I never put turkey in navy bean soup before.  But since it’s my basic navy bean soup recipe with some roasted turkey parts tossed in the pot I’m sure the soup will turn out fine.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 qt low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 lb dried navy beans
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cooked turkey leg
  • 1 cooked turkey wing
  1. Soak the beans overnight in water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.  Saute until the vegetables are softened.  Add the thyme and saute an additional minute until the herb is fragrant.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans.  Add to the pot along with the vegetable broth, bay leaf, and turkey parts.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are soft.
  5. Remove the wing and leg.  Allow to cool and remove the meat from the bones.  Discard the bones.  Dice the turkey meat and return to the pot.  Correct your seasonings.
  6. Yum.

The Next Day

This may be the quickest edit to a post ever.  I forgot to list salt and pepper.  But if this is your first visit to this recipe you wouldn’t know that.    When I corrected the seasonings I tossed in some paprika, dried parsley and a little shake of garlic and onion powders.  The Boss also told me to use up the leftovers so in addition to the leg and wing I added about 4 ounces of breast meat.

During the simmer phase keep an eye on the pot.  As navy beans cook the liquid thickens so don’t let the soup burn.  Add sufficient additional liquid to avoid this calamity.  At first I used water.  Towards the end of the simmer I used some organic chicken broth.  In total I may have added nearly a cup of liquid during the cooking process.

The soup turned out yummy.

 

The Unoriginal Cabbage Soup

Nothing of importance is ever achieved without discipline. I feel myself sometimes not wholly in sympathy with some modern educational theorists, because I think that they underestimate the part that discipline plays. But the discipline you have in your life should be one determined by your own desires and your own needs, not put upon you by society or authority.

Bertrand Russell

We all know better, but we don’t choose better. I was a cokehead, a heroin addict. At night you get coked up knowing you’re going to feel terrible in the morning. You have to make the habit of doing what’s difficult now to make you better. It’s easy to do the right thing when you’re used to it.

Russell Simmons

I named this soup Unoriginal because there’s really nothing original about cabbage soup.  It could just as easily be called What’s in the Fridge Soup because I had a small head of cabbage that needed to be eaten.  There were two halves of two different peppers and half an onion.  What do you do with these odds and ends?

Soup.

Something happened to me this summer.  I was a lapsed vegetarian for over 30 years and in the beginning of August I got serious about my diet (again).  Kyrie credits his diet for the recent Celtics winning streak.  Clearly something is happening to a lot of people.  It’s not just me.

Choose better.  Losing 200 pounds was not easy.  Regaining 40 pounds was easy.  Making the right food choices?  Trust me, it’s easier than you think.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 large onion, thin sliced
2 carrots, peeled cut into coins
1 stalk celery sliced thin diagonally
1/2 each red and green bell pepper, slice
1 cup frozen corn
7 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 small head green cabbage sliced
1 quart organic vegetable broth
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium size pot heat the olive oil.
  2. Everybody (except tomatoes, corn and broth) in the pool in the following order: onion, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, cabbage.
  3. Saute until the cabbage wilts, add herbs, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add vegetable broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Simmer partially covered for 30 minutes.  Add corn and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. Yum.

 

Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal

Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal

1/2 pound dried pinto beans
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican variety preferred), crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic (medium), finely chopped
1 can tomatoes, fine dice
2 teaspoons chili powder
pinch salt

 

1. Pick over the beans carefully and remove any foreign particles. Put the beans in a strainer and rinse under cold running water. Put the beans, bay leaf, oregano, and cumin in a large saucepan with water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the beans are tender and the liquid thickens, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Do not let the beans boil dry. Check the water level during cooking and add hot water, when needed, about 1/4 cup at a time. There should always be about 1/2 inch of water above the level of the beans.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and cook the onion, stirring, until it browns, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and ground chili. Cook, stirring, until the tomato juices evaporate, 2 to 3 minutes. When the beans are tender, add the onion mixture to the beans. Add salt, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes to blend flavors. Remove the bay leaf, and serve hot.

Adapted from the original meatless recipe found in “1,000 Mexican Recipes.” Copyright 2001 by Marge Powe, Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Tips

I love pinto beans and found this recipe a long time ago.  When the offspring were little I didn’t fix beans at home.  I got my bean fix when we went out for Tex-Mex and gorged myself on the refried variety.  Nowadays as an Aging Wonder I tend to eat a lot healthier than during my younger days.  Give me a good bowl of beans and I’m a happy camper.

Check back for updates and tips on this soup recipe.  I’ve got beans on the stove and I am absolutely positive I no longer follow the recipe as written.

Semi-Organic Beef Vegetable Soup

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots,peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, skin on
  • 1 medium green squash, diced
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound top blade roast
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 large white button mushrooms, thick dice
  • 1/2 C frozen corn
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • pinch dried parsley
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 quart organic beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Makes about four healthy servings.

  1. In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot.  Salt and pepper the roast.  Brown the beef on both sides over medium high heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion.  Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
  3. Add garlic powder and thyme.  Add enough broth to almost but not completely cover the roast.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer slowly for two hours.
  5. After two hours, remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  6. Add the rest of the beef broth and tomatoes to the pot.
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes add the squash , mushrooms and corn.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  9. When the roast is cooled, trim any excess fat, cube and add to the soup.
  10.  Adjust your seasonings.  Add parsley.

My meals since Friday evening have been soup, cereal, soup, soup, toast/banana, soup, and soup.   The jeans are getting a little loose.  I cannot remember a weekend of such healthy eating ever.  Yes, The Boss is still sick.  Friday I made chicken soup.  Last night I made Vegetarian Vegetable Soup.  Today I decided upon Beef Vegetable for a change in pace.

A high quality beef vegetable soup is the end result of the right cut of beef and some high quality broth.  This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not.  The beef broth was hand selected store bought prepared organic broth.  I used top blade which IMO makes a big difference  due to the cut and marbling.

Tips

I remembered the mushrooms.   Use vegetables you have on hand.  I also decided to leave out peas because peas are not one of my favorite vegetables.  The corn adds a touch of sweetness.  Note the roast is braised whole for several hours, cooled, cubed and returned to the soup.  The beef stays tender this way.  You won’t end up with tiny hockey pucks.

A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.

So would a three pound top blade roast.  But with that much beef you might as well make Pot Roast.