Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard & Chickpeas

Tonight, despite the leftovers begging to be released from their (glass, because when my mom found out about BPA, you can guess what was under the Christmas tree) Tupperware containers, I decided to forge ahead with a plan for lentil soup.  It’s freezing and windy and tomorrow it might even snow here (let’s keep our fingers crossed!!).

You may recall lentil soup with Swiss chard is a staple around here…but I recently bought some garam masala and why not?  Enter Bon Appetit’s plan to integrate curry and garbanzo beans + a few small tweaks, because I just can’t help myself, especially around garlic.

back to our cilantro ways!
back to our cilantro ways!

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Chickpeas

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 teaspoons curry powder
  • small handful cayenne
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • pinch garam marsala (optional)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups veggie broth, plus or minus (depending on if you like lentil soup vs. stand-alone lentils)
  • 1 cup red lentils (what is Bon Appetit thinking, calling for a pound!?)
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • salt and sugar – in case the curry comes out a little bitter, more on this later
  • optional/for topping: plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, cooked brown rice, avocado
  1. If serving with rice (in the Husband’s view, you can’t over-carb), get your water boiling – the rice will take about the same time as the soup, if you get it going first (especially if using jasmine rice).  Cook rice according to directions and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Cook the onions down, until translucent, over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook for a minute; add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, crushed reds, and garam masala.  Mix well and then add broth and Swiss chard; bring to a boil.
  3. Add the lentils and reduce the heat.  Split lentils will take significantly less time to cook than non-split ones; if working with split lentils, add the chickpeas now.  If not, let the lentils cook down a bit before adding the chickpeas.  Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Taste your soup & adjust accordingly.  Mine was quite bitter and a bit heavy on the seasonings.  To counteract this, I added (very small & equal) amounts of salt and sugar and stirred until dissolved, until I was able to bring the bite down a bit.
  5. Before serving, add the lime juice and stir.  Serve with brown rice, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt and cilantro.  TIP: Mixing the yogurt all the way through will also serve to counteract any lingering bitterness and really bring all of the flavors together, though obviously, this won’t work for the lactose-intolerant.

The Verdict:

Around step 4, I got really worried.  In the Husband’s words, it tasted “not bad…like water, with seasonings.”  However, I’m starting to trust myself a bit more, and rather than resign myself to bad soup (which I have definitely foisted upon the Husband before – cue the burned-pumpkin-soup story from our days of pre-dating, which he ate up with a big, if forced, smile.), I actually fixed it, with salt, sugar, and a bit more time stewing.  This turned out deliciously – warm, tasty, and filling (another) happy Tupperware container to bring for lunch.  Topped with avocado, next time!

more avocado, please.
more avocado, please.
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Hello, 2015: Vegetable Paella

We had a very appropriately 30-something New Year’s Eve, replete with dinner guests, champagne, a charcuterie board, and of course, a game of vodka roulette (the Husband either won or lost, depending on your point of view.  The next morning, he felt he had definitely lost).  Totally approp.

Our dinner party plans were a little impromptu, and with a couple of guests with dietary restrictions, it was the prefect opportunity to deploy a recipe from Plenty, one of my THREE Christmas present cookbooks.  (Apparently, cookbooks are what you get for Christmas the year you start a blog.  This is mostly inspiring, though a bit terrifying, as they are beyond gorgeous.  And I’m not talking just the food or the photos, either.  How does someone raise seven children and a gaggle of dogs and look like this?)

#thisis30
#thisis30

Vegetable Paella For Six (Yotam Ottolenghi, with a few tweaks)

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 orange bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 carton baby Bella mushrooms
  • 6 bay leaves
  • teaspoon smoked paprika
  • teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups rice (the recipe calls for Calasparra; I found this impossible to find and went with the medium grain Calrose instead)
  • 12 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 teaspoons saffron
  • salt
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock, brought to a boil
  • 8 plum or Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, well drained and cut into quarters
  • plenty of fresh parsley
  • lemon wedges
  1. If you’re serving this as a dinner party dish and want to get the timing done right, best to get your veggies prepped first.  Cut up your onion, peppers, fennel, etc. and set aside.  The rest of the dish takes about 45 minutes start to finish.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and saute about 6 minutes; add peppers and fennel and saute until they start to soften.  Add garlic and mushrooms, cook an additional minute.
  3. Boil your vegetable stock (your electric water boiler is perfect for this!)
  4. Add bay leaf, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper and give the mixture a stir.  Add the rice and stir it about for two minutes before adding the sherry and saffron.  Let that cook off about a minute or so and then add your vegetable stock and a dash of salt (especially if you’re using low sodium broth!).  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid.  Don’t stir it.
  5. When the rice has cooked through, taste it without disturbing it too much and adjust the seasonings.  Add the tomatoes and artichokes to the top and then cover for about 10 minutes, to give a chance for the heat to gently cook them.
  6. Serve with parsley and lemon wedges.
just missing the mariscos
just missing the mariscos

The Verdict:

Fact: paella tastes better with seafood.   That being said, this was very tasty rice with vegetables, and it had a pretty color, given the turmeric.  No hay de que, por lo menos, ¡teníamos bastante cava!

Stromboli Night

I believe (though I’m not sure, maybe our Italian friend can help out?) the technical term should actually be calzone night, since we serve the sauce on the side (rather than baked within the dough).  But this is a Husband Specialty, and apparently the term “stromboli” was invented in Philadelphia, and the Husband is from there.  So it’s stromboli night around here.

Now, this is certainly not elevated cooking – but if you’re looking for something easy, delicious and filling enough to over-compensate for your gym routine, this is it.  This makes enough for two very hungry people or four people with normal-sized stomachs.  We fall into the former category.  New Year’s resolutions are so 2015.

getting the stromboli party started.
getting the stromboli party started.

“Homemade” Stromboli

  • store-bought pizza dough (I like the Trader Joe’s whole wheat ball of dough, the Husband, not so much.  His recipe, his rules).
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup spinach or arugula
  • a few slices red onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • handful mushrooms
  • handful Parmesan
  • optional: prosciutto or your choice sliced meat
  • crushed red peppers
  • salt + pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • store-bought or homemade marinara sauce (if store-bought, we like to doctor it up with olive oil, extra herbs, salt + pepper, etc.)
your stromboli log, pre-bake
step 3, below
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  On a large baking pan, roll and stretch out your dough as thinly as you can without breaking it.  (NOTE: If the dough is too thick, it won’t cook all the way through.)
  2. Working in thin layers (so as not to overstuff the stromboli), start with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese down the center of the dough; do not spread all the way to the end.  Top with your choice of veggies: bell peppers, mushrooms, arugula, onion, mushrooms.  If you have a diehard carnivore partner, place a slice of prosciutto or soppressata over the veggies.  Top with more mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and some crushed reds.
  3. Fold in the very ends of the dough towards the center.  Fold in both sides so that one side is layered over the other.  (The stromboli should resemble a large rectangle or log, see picture above).  Brush the top and sides of the log with olive oil and your choice of seasonings and herbs.  (We add more s+p, Italian seasoning, and crushed reds).
  4. Bake at 425 for ten minutes.  Take the stromboli out and make small cuts into the top of the log, to let some air escape.  Pop back in the oven and bake another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with a side salad and a bowl of marinara sauce.
get in my belly!
get in my belly!

The Verdict:

The Husband wants everyone to know that “the picture doesn’t do it justice.”  My above average-sized stomach agrees.