Monday, November 10, 2008

...making lentil soup



the chill in the air has me thinking soup...
and lentil soup with kielbasa & kale is one of my favorites...
so today, I'm making it for the first time since last spring...

I've often made it for "large gatherings"[15-25]...
so cutting down the recipe to about 4 quarts can be tricky...
but I'm going to give it a shot...it does keep well...
and will thicken into a "stew"...
which you can thin with more broth or water...
if you want...



I take my 6 quart stock pot...[looks just like this...]
put it on the front burner, set to medium...



& add extra virgin olive oil to cover bottom...
[about 1/4" all over...] and let it heat up...

then I peel & dice 1 big yellow onion...



testing the heat by adding a few pieces first...
if they "fry", turn down the heat...
you want a sweat w/a bit of color...
nothing too dark...



while the onion is cooking, I wash, trim & slice...
6 or 7 skinny young carrots[you don't need to peel the young ones...]
the whole bunch if they are really thin...
put into pot, stir...



then I wash and thinly chop most of a young head of celery...
starting at the top... always using the leaves & heart leaves...
[I look for celery with a lot of leaves...
that's where the flavor is...]
add to pot & stir...

now is a time to add salt & pepper to the veggies...



I use between 6 - 15 cloves of garlic...
[depends on the size & age of the garlic...
and on the requests of any diners...

I use one of these...



to mince it fine and add it on top of the other veggies...
stirring it in...
keep an eye on it...DON'T LET IT BURN...



I like Hillshire Farms Lite Polska Kielbasa...
not the Turkey, the Lite...
almost the same calories/fat...
BIG taste difference...
the Regular is too greasy for this soup...

I use a pound...
cut either in rounds, for a stew...
or smaller chunks for a soup...

after cutting, it goes into the pot...
stir and let heat up...

if you put the sausage in before the veggies...
and let it "fry"...it gives a more meaty taste to the soup...



now is the time to add the lentils...
I use 1 bag[16 oz] for soup...
1.5 to 2 bags for stew...
stir to mix with the veggies...



I like the taste of this chicken broth...
it comes in quart & pint containers...
I use between 2 & 3 quarts, depending on the volume of veggies...
most of the time, it's 2.5 qts for soup...
3 qts[with the extra lentils] for stew...
pour in & stir, mixing well...

turn up heat to speed up reaching the simmer point...



I wash & rough chop a head of kale...
leaving out any stems or woody veins...
and fold into the soup...

now for the seasonings...



I like fresh thyme...
I'll use 6-8 sprigs...
mixing in the entire sprig, stem & all...
to be fished out later when the leaves fall off...
I've never used dried thyme leaves...
about 1 TBSP, if you can't get fresh...



dry bay leaves [Turkish are best] are better than fresh...
California Bay Laurels have a more pungent eucalyptus taste...
to me anyway... and fresh bay leaves will be those...

I use 3-5 depending on size & potency[aroma...]
these must also be removed before serving...



to me, dark greens[ie kale]...
always taste better with freshly grated nutmeg...
about 1/2 tspn... use the can, if you must...

and nutmeg loves...



Harvey's Bristol Creme Sherry...[or any premium sherry...]
between 1/4 to 2/3 C to your taste...
the alcohol will cook off...
but the nutty flavor will mingle with the nutmeg...
and there will be a party in your mouth...

cover, turn to lowest heat...
and leave to simmer for about 1 hour...

after about an hour, stir....
the veggies should be softening...
& the lentils cooked...
cover and leave on lowest heat...
for another 40mins to an hour....

lift lid... by now, the lentils should be breaking up...

if it seems too thick, add liquid[water or broth...]
to desired thickness...stir...
taste...

add salt & pepper to taste...



I think fresh ground sea salt[or Kosher] & pepper are best...

serve with a warm crusty loaf of multigrain artisan style bread...



a green salad would make this more balanced...
but this soup & bread are a meal all by themselves...

and the soup gets better over the next couple of days...

enjoy... I know I will...

a very necessary postscript...

after the thyme leaves have fallen off the stems...
remove the stems...
and the bay leaves...

definitly...NOT "good eats"...
[Alton Brown would probably not mind this "borrowing" of his tag line...]

6 comments:

Amberchlopaz said...

Beautiful pictures. From whence do you get all these gorgeous pix?

Erik said...

I agree -- those pictures are awesome, as is the recipe.

Miz Minka said...

The Mr. and I having been the lucky recipients of this wonderful concoction, I can tell you that the soup is indeed "a party in your mouth." Yum!

Yes, where DO you get these amazing photos?

catsinger said...

...thanks, Amber...
welcome & thanks, Eric[cool website, I'll return later...]...
& thanks to Mr & Mrs GT[it'll be deliverable around 2-ish...I warn you...a text message perhaps ? ;D]

it should be really good today...I'm listening to my L&C CD
while I'm making it...and it's put a big grin on my face...
[anything made with a smile is always good...]

the picts ?... why Google Image Search, of course...& a LOT of patient skulking & downloading[stupid Blogger...]

my mentor taught me well ![;D]

us300 said...

You are making my mouth water!

I love this soup the way you make it, It is the best I have ever had. Too bad I am so far away now, I miss your cooking!!!

catsinger said...

...thanks J... I made it more "soupy" this time...less thick...I thought it tasted pretty good...if I do say so myself...;D