Lentil Spinach Soup

I’ve been making this every week for a month or two now; ever since there was a chill in the air, really. It’s tasty, a complete protein/meal with rice or toast, and truly delicious. It is adapted from the Greens cookbook which is a mainstay in my arsenal.

1 cup green or brown lentils, cleaned and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 diced celery stalk
7 cups water
Salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lg red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
~1lb spinach, cut into strips (no stems)
Red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar to taste
Pepper

Put the lentils, bay leaf and celery in a soup pot with the water, parsley stems, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Boil, remove foam, lower heat to slow boil.

While lentils cook, heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook briskly for a few minutes, lower the heat, and stir in the garlic and parsley. Continue until onions are soft, then add lentils in the soup pot.

When lentils are soft, stir in the spinach by handfuls, simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Turn off heat and add vinegar.

Lemony Lentil Soup

At Christmas I was given the Thug Kitchen cookbook – which is AMAZING. Seriously. Quit your job. Spend your last paycheck on groceries and wine, and spend the next two weeks in the kitchen. This is a recipe (I’ve slightly) adapted from that book and it is the best thing I’ve made with red lentils in ages.

Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 russet potato, cut into cubes
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed (the original recipe uses minced)
1/2tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
5-6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (just boost the lemon juice if you’re out)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional garnish – original recipe calls for cilantro)

Directions:
Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 mins. Add carrot and potato for another 2 mins. Then add spices. Saute for another 30 seconds, then add salt, lentils, and broth. Fish out those pieces of garlic (you can do this later, if you minced the garlic, leave it in).

Let the lentils simmer, uncovered for 15-20 mins, until they are soft and falling apart, stirring occasionally.  Add the lemon zest and juice and turn off the heat. Throw in that parsley at the very end, as a garnish when you serve.

You can add shredded kale or spinach to this recipe at the very end and serve with rice or quinoa to make a complete meal.

Porcini Risotto

This is an amazing risotto that I’ve served to Italian friends (who love their butter, but also love this risotto). The miso does wonders in adding flavour and nuance that makes the missing butter and cheese a-ok because of the new tasty flavour profiles present. Enjoy (I’m sure you will).

1 oz (~1/4c) dried porcini mushrooms,
~1/2 c warm water,
olive oil
3-4 shallots chopped
2-3 c mixed mushrooms, chopped (oyster, shiitake, crimini, portobello, button)
1 c arborio rice
~4 c veg stock
~1/2 c mushroom soaking water (you will make this)
1/4 c white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp genmai miso
minced parsley as garnish

  1. Remove dirt from the dried porcini and soak the mushrooms in a large bowl with warm water for ~30 min while you prep other ingredients.
  2. Set pot on stove with vegetable stock, bring it to a simmer.
  3. Chop shallots and set aside. Clean and chop mixed mushrooms, set aside.
  4. Drain the porcini mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid. Chop porcini mushrooms coarsely. Set aside as well.
  5. Heat oil in a big pan over medium heat and add chopped shallot, stir to translucent. Add porcinis and chopped mushrooms, continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  6. Heat up to med-high and add the rice into the pan. Toast the rice, it should become fragrant and coated in oil. Don’t burn the rice, this only takes 2 minutes, the rice becomes glossy once it is toasted.
  7. Add the mushroom liquid and allow it to be absorbed (stir).
  8. Add the white wine. Stir frequently until the wine has been absorbed. Do not cover the pan.
  9. Turn the heat down to medium. Add a ladle of stock, stir and let the rice absorb all the liquid before you add the next ladle.
  10. Continue adding a ladle of stock, stirring well for about 15-20 minutes. Do not add too much liquid at once, and keep in mind it should simmer and not boil.
  11. When risotto is al dente, take the pan off the heat. Then stir in miso (best to combine the miso with a small portion of risotto until thoroughly mixed and then mix that into the larger pot or mix the miso into the last ladle of stock before adding it).
  12. Serve with parsley.

Lentil soup with kale and mushrooms

I just made this today because I had a leek that needed to be used and I didn’t feel like tofu and mushrooms, but had already prepped a bunch of mushrooms. Also, I had the mushroom soaking liquid on hand, but if you soak mushrooms to get it, chop them up and add them with the mushrooms. It was GREAT, exactly what I wanted after a run on a winter day. Below is 2 dinner portions.

1.5 cups sliced fresh mixed mushrooms (I had oyster, shiitake, crimini and button)
1 medium carrot chopped
1 thinly sliced leek
1 cup cooked small green or black lentils
1/2 cup soaking liquid from dried mushrooms
1/4 cup strained tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes if you prefer)
1/2 tsp each dried thyme and red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
1 cup or so of veg broth
2 cups dinosaur kale
olive oil

Directions

  1. In a pot, sweat the leeks, carrots and mushrooms in oil until tender.
  2. Add the lentils and after 2 minutes add the herbs, mushroom liquid and tomatoes.
  3. Add broth – you may use more or less than a cup depending on your tastes. Once the carrots and mushrooms are almost ready, add the kale and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Serve with olive oil.

Minestrotto

This is a risotto/minestrone hybrid. The risotto rice adds starch and thickness to the broth. The soup is even more delicious on the second day. Freeze on the 3rd day if you have leftovers.

minestrotto

5-6 cups of veg broth (I make this by simmering for 45 min in 10 cups water: 1 leek, 2 carrots, 1 lg onion, 1 peeled apple, 2 shallots, 2 celery stalks, a handful of parsley stems)

4 shallots
1 leek
2 carrots (med-lg, 3 or 4 small)
2 potatoes
1 celery stalk (strung)
1/4 bulb fennel
1 zucchini, small

1/4 cup white wine
some olive oil
1 cup arborio rice (or other risotto rice)

All veggies should be chopped small – almost diced (as in minestrone). Heat broth on the stove. For best results, use a ceramic pot or dutch oven for the minestrotto.

Add shallots to pot with 1/4c water. Boil down to release their flavour for about 10 min, you can add some salt.

Add rice and some olive oil and stir about 1-3 min. Add the wine, stir and allow to cook down (wine can be omitted, it isn’t crucial).

Add all veggies except the zucchini. Add 1-1.5 ladle of broth. Carry on in this way, ladle by ladle like a risotto until the rice is swelling and there is a good amount of broth in the pot (nothing is sticking). Add the zucchini.

You can put the lid on, stir occasionally and taste every now and then, adjusting the salt and paying attention to the rice. Once the rice is soft and has released its starch, you are done (the veggies should be soft). This takes maybe 10 minutes. You can add red pepper flakes for some heat. Let the soup sit for 10 min once you have turned off the heat.

Serve with minced parsley and olive oil.

Saffron Rice

This is a recipe for using a rice cooker…but rice is so simple, you can easily adapt this for the stove (my rice cooker is mostly for climate control in the summer or so I can cook and run errands at once).

Saffron Rice

2 cups white jasmine rice
1-2 cups vegetarian stock, (as per your rice cooker)
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried crushed chilli
1/4 tsp. salt

  • Measure stock into a pot and place over high heat on your stove. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. (If using stock cubes or powder, be sure they are well dissolved in the boiling water.)
  • Add the saffron threads, turmeric, cumin, chili and salt to the hot stock. Stir well.
  • Pour this mixture into your rice cooker together with the rice. Stir and cover. Switch on the cooker.
  • When rice is done, fluff with a fork or chopsticks (the dried chili may have risen to the top – just stir it in). Taste-test for saltiness, adding a little more salt if needed. If too salty, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

 

 

Baked Polenta

I recommend having this with the Stewed Beans, Swiss Chard and Carrots. It is quite delicious with any bean dish stewed in tomatoes. I also love polenta with white beans and sage.

This recipe makes quite a bit, you may not need a whole batch and can easily make half. Making polenta requires nearly constant stirring, you can buy polenta already prepared if you wish, it is on the shelves of the grocery store with the cornmeal. It is definitely worthwhile to make your own. I am actually not vegan even though this blog is, and must admit that I love adding a good 1/4 cup of goat cheese to my polenta in the last 5 min.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups veggie stock – the flavour of the stock will come through in the final dish
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt (omit this if using a bouillon cube, or bought stock)
1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:
In a heavy saucepan bring water, stock and salt to a boil and gradually whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Add pepper. Cook polenta over moderately low heat (it should be barely boiling), stirring constantly, until very thick and pulls away from side of pan, about 25-30 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pour polenta into a shallow casserole dish and cool (should fill about an 8″ x 8″ or 2 QT dish).  Polenta will become firm in a matter of 20 minutes on the counter, cut into slices, this can be done ahead. Polenta will keep in the fridge for a few days so long as it is well covered. When ready, set your oven to 350 F, bake slices for 20 min, flip over half way through baking.*

*I find that I don’t have to grease the baking sheet when I do this, sometimes it sticks a bit when you flip halfway through, but if you place the piece of polenta directly on what stuck to the pan when you flip it, the stuck stuff will stick to the polenta when you remove it from the oven after the last 10 minutes.