Monday, September 11, 2006
TEST RECIPE #2
Here is the second test recipe per my earlier post, Eating Suburbia: The Tables Are Turned. Today’s recipe is called Creamy French Lentil Soup with Bacon. I learned to cook with dried beans when I was a college student and poor as a church mouse. I continue to cook with them today as my whole family loves them. Our standards include spicy black bean soup, white navy bean soup (like my granny used to make), curried lentils (dal), split pea soup, red beans and rice, among others. We have a fantastic farm, Phipps Country Store and Farm , over in Pescadero that sells upwards of 50 types of dried beans, some of them so beautiful they are worthy of counter display.
Lentils, in particular, are low in fat, high in fiber, and absorb the flavors of herbs and spices well. And just like they were when I was in college, they are inexpensive. A pound usually runs about $1 and it serves 6. Even these fancy French lentils were $1.99/pound at Whole Foods, which is reasonable for a main dish.
INGREDIENTS: the recipe calls for French lentils, which my Safeway did not have. I was able to get them across the street at Whole Foods, which had them min bulk. Everything else was available at my local Safeway or was already on my shelf or in my garden.
PREP: this was easy, just chopping and measuring. It took less than 15 minutes once I had everything assembled.
COOKING: this took about 80 minutes, with minimal intervention. Saute, add, sauté, add, boil, simmer, cover, add, simmer.
TASTE: We were all in agreement that this would be a good winter soup. The flavor was good. The combination of the vegetables worked well with the lentils and made for a hearty, earthy soup. Definitely a keeper recipe for my household. The directions called for salt, nutmeg, cayenne, and white pepper to taste. It needed very little salt, due to the bacon. I thought nutmeg was a poor choice of spice to add, so I only added ¼ tsp, making it indiscernible. I also added ½ tsp of each of the peppers, which added a nice warmth to the overall mouthfeel of the soup.
4 oz sliced bacon cut into ½ inch dice
2 cup ½ inch diced onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon dry thyme
1 cup carrots cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup celery cut into ¼ inch slices
1 cup brown lentils
2 quart chicken stock
2 cup diced tomato
3 bay leaves
1 cup whipping cream
Salt, nutmeg, cayenne, and white pepper to taste
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Heat a four quart pot and cook bacon until crispy, add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until brown, add thyme, bay leaves carrots, celery, and lentils and stir well. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, cook for 40 minutes so that the lentils are soft, cover the pot with a lid for ten minutes. Add the tomatoes, cream, basil and seasoning and return to a simmer for five minutes
I had concerns about the amount of lentils. Thinking that athe recipe called for a pound of lentils, that is what I purchased. But upon closely reading the recipe, it only called for 1 cup. This seemed strange to me, as that would make it more of a vegetable soup with lentils. So what I did was cook the recipe as the chef had intended. I also cooked extra lentils on the side in stock. I tasted the recipe once it was cooked, and adjusted the lentils to my own satisfaction. What I would suggest is using 2 cups of lentils, rather than one. It makes for a heariter and thicker soup. The family agreed with me.
I also think the word “creamy” should not be in the title. The addition of cream does make it somewhat creamy, but the word intimates thick and luscious like a cream of potato soup, which it is not. Because it is not pureed or thick, the word is a bit misleading, in my humble opinion.