Red Lentil Soup with Cashews

The weather on my Nana’s birthday was pretty dismal in my part of the world.  If there’s one thing I hate more than cold, rainy weather, it’s warm, rainy weather.

That treasured sunlight which brings me such joy has gone away, and in its stead is an oppressive humidity that clings to every corner of the apartment, even if it’s not all that hot.  There’s nothing worse than breaking out in a sweat while doing some light vacuuming.  It’s pretty gross.

Yet somehow, I still crave warm comfort foods when the sun is hidden.  In Taiwan, I inhaled steamed buns like oxygen, desperate for a glimmer of sunlight during monsoon season.  Back in the US, I resort to other options, which sometimes means soup.

And this soup happens to be one of my favorites.  It’s also the only soup I’ve gotten Luke to eat that contains *gasp* lentils.  And carrots.  The boy hates carrots.

But this soup is great.  It’s incredibly easy to make, and freezes well so you can keep it on hand.  Oh yeah, and there are cashews.  Cashews in soup you ask?  Yes, and it’s delicious.  I’ve started adding cashews randomly to other soups, hoping it’ll be as good as this one, but it’s not quite the same.  The cashews cook in the soup for the last 15 minutes of simmering, and imbue the soup with a little of their flavor.  They also soften a bit, and provide a great contrast in texture, taking this soup to another level of awesome.

Red Lentil Soup with Cashews

Adapted from The Parsley Thief

Makes 8 servings

3 Tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tsp garam marsala
2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
two 14.5 oz cans petite-diced tomatoes
1 pound dried red lentils, picked over & rinsed
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups roasted cashews

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add in the chopped onions, a generous pinch of salt and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garam marsala and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute.
Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and their juices, lentils, celery, carrots, garlic, cayenne, salt and water. Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir in the cashews and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Check the soup for seasonings and add additional salt if needed. The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and frozen for up to two months.


Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

Today Luke and I have our final cake tasting.  Though the rivers of free cake will soon staunch their flows, I’ll be glad to have another thing crossed off our wedding prep list.

The whole process of wedding planning has been very smooth for us so far.  I’m sure things will get crazy as the date approaches, but we’re doing our best to get everything mapped out as early as possible.  Last night we also decided on what our wedding favors will be.  Getting it done!

Since days for making soups comfortably are starting to dwindle, I figured I’d post a stew while I still can.  Not that weather deters me from making what I want.  I’m churning that ice cream in winter, and hovering over that hot pot of stew in summer.  What can I say, my stomach is spoiled.

 Luckily, I was craving a hearty stew in the middle of February, and had a lonely sweet potato eyeballing me.

I was very surprised by how this stew turned out, because, well, it was supposed to be a soup.  I halved the original recipe, and maybe that threw things off, because what I got some more of a sweet potato lentil spread.  Which was awesome and delicious, and…interesting.  I ate it like hummus.  Definitely my best kitchen flop so far this year.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

Adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks

Makes about 6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion chopped, about 1 cup

1 cup chopped carrot, about 2 large

3 cups peeled and chopped sweet potato, about 1 1/2 lbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 cup dry red lentils

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed saucepan (at least 5 qt) over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot and sweet potato. Mix to coat with the olive oil and cook for 5 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add in the garlic, cayenne powder, and curry powder, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the lentils and mix until they are all coated, about 1 minute.

Add in the stock, and reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are tender and the lentils are cooked (exploded), about 15-20 mins. Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender, or puree in blender in batches.

Once it is all pureed, add in the cream and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the fresh lemon juice and serve.

Potato Chowder with Smoked Gouda

Early March is still technically winter right?  So it’s totally ok to still be eating soup.  You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that I eat soup all year round.

Soup is my go-to dinner food, right after bread with cheese and hummus.  I know I’ve already griped about how Luke doesn’t like soup, so I don’t get to make it as often as I’d like, etc.  It’s not that Luke doesn’t like soup, he only likes the heavy, cream based ones that sit the bottom of your stomach.

I on the other hand, like my soups light and brothy, though I add milk to thicken them up a little on occasion.  Still, I can’t do cream based soups…it’s like slurping a weird, savory, chunky milkshake.  I’ll pass.

I call this soup a chowder because I added milk to make it creamier and a bit heavier than a regular stock based soup.  This pleased Luke, and I managed to tolerate it, because I’m just a good person like that.

Also because it contains smoked gouda, a cheese after my own heart.  Feel free to use other cheeses though, if you don’t have gouda on hand.

Potato Chowder with Smoked Gouda

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Annual Recipes 2002

Makes 4-6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

4 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

½ shredded smoked gouda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add leek and garlic, and sauté for 3 minutes or until tender.  Stir in potato, carrots, stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until potato chunks are tender.

Discard bay leaves (I forgot to and ended up eating bay leaf…not too tasty).  Using an immersion blender, or a regular blender, puree the soup until it reaches desired consistency. I like to leave a few chunks of potato intact.

Return soup to pot if you used a normal blender and stir in milk, gouda, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the cheese melts.  Serve with extra cheese on top if desired.

Simple Udon Soup

What do you do when you walk into the living room in the morning to feed your darling bunny and encounter this situation?

Yep, that’s Izzy on top of her cage.  She jumped up there…because that’s what rabbits do I guess.  If you don’t believe me, look up rabbit show jumping on youtube.  Oh, it’s a thing. Anyway, the first time this happened, I was visiting my grandma and Luke had left her bag of food on the side table next to her cage.

She’s been up there a few more times since then, but she never seems to have intentions of escaping her pen, probably because if she did, she’d be leaving behind her water and food supply.  Since she spends 80% of her time eating or drinking, I’d say that’d be a bad bet for her, and we like to think that she’s a smart bunny.

Still, it’s adorable to see her bunny curiosity lead her up there, as cute photos will ensue.

Even though it’s been a mild winter in the northeast, I still find myself craving soup, practically all the time.  Some soup recipes require long simmering time, but when I want a quick bowl of the steamy stuff, I always think Asian first.

Soup noodles were my number one favorite food to eat in Taiwan (yes, despite the heat, also double bonus if there were wontons included.)  So, of course I like to reconstruct them at home where the weather is actually appropriate.

I also love soup noodles because the flavors can be tailored to individual tastes.  Feel free to use whatever vegetables/meat/noodles you want, but remember that this is a quicky recipe, so the meat will need to be pre-cooked, and the veggies will only soften a little.

Simple Udon Noodle Soup

Recipe by Bashfulbao

Makes about 4 servings

Water to boil noodles/pasta

2 cups chicken/veggie/beef broth

1 tbsp miso paste (you can omit this if you don’t have it)

two bundles udon noodles (or 8 oz other pasta of choice)

1 cup pre cooked chicken, diced or shredded

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

green onions/sesame seeds for garnish

Cook whatever noodles you’re using according to their packaged directions.  Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water after straining the noodles.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan, then add in onion, garlic, or other combinations of chopped vegetables.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 mins.  Add in reserved water and stock.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low.  Add in cooked pasta, choice of meat, miso paste, hoisin sauce and simmer for 5 mins.  You may need to stir it a bit to break up the miso.  Ladle soup into bowls, garnish and serve!

Potato Leek Soup

As you read this, I’m probably sitting in a dressing somewhere in Northern Massachusetts trying to muster the strength to squeeze my abused body into yet another big white dress.  Or maybe I’m chilling on my couch with my best lady friends chatting about how easy finding the perfect dress was.

Leeks are pretty.

Either way, I hope you’re enjoying your Saturday, even though I may or may not be.  You might have noticed I’ve been posting a lot.  Sorry about that?  You’re welcome?  Apparently, I’ve been cooking/baking up a store and I’m already backlogged with things to share, so I’ll keep posting every day for as long as I can manage it.

This photo…not so pretty…

I’m trying to vet out the posts with not-so-awesome photography, but that doesn’t at all mean the recipes aren’t awesome.  This soup might not take a fabulous photo, but what it may lack in photogenic-ness, it makes up for in flavor.  I brought some to my mom’s house when I went to Connecticut last weekend, and it served as a rehabilitation meal for my stepdad as he battled a cold.

Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup.  Unless you’re eating a bowl of soup while watching your bunny rabbit stretch, yawn and flop over.  Try to finish your soup before running over to coo mindlessly at her.

Potato Leek Soup

Adapted from Munchin with Munchkin

Makes about 8 servings

8-10 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed ( I used 8 potatoes)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 leeks, sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped (I omitted these)
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. salted butter
¼ cup fresh parsley (I used dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1 Tsp. dried rosemary
dash red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 cups chicken broth (alternately use vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all vegetables. Leeks need extra attention when cleaning as they contain a lot of sand. To properly clean a leek remove the roots and the dark green ends, so just the white and light green part remains. Slice the leek length wise, halfway through, so all of its layers are visible. Rinse under cold water carefully pulling back layers to remove the sand. Shake off excess water and slice into thin discs.

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium high heat. Sauté leeks, onions and garlic for roughly 3-5 minutes until tender. Do not brown the leeks as it will give your soup a burnt flavor.

Add potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook for an additional 5 minutes stirring frequently. Sprinkle with parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, and rosemary, stir to combine. Pour in chicken broth and season with Worcestershire sauce.

Bring soup to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes. Remove from heat.

Using a blender or immersion blender, puree soup in batches until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wild Mushroom Soup

During this time of year, most people are scrambling to finish Thanksgiving leftovers before they go bad, stringing holiday lights over their house-front bushes, or bringing home a fresh Christmas tree ready to be decorated.  As a new couple starting out, however, Luke and I don’t participate in these activities.  My mom was always very adamant about seasonal decorating our house growing up, and it’s something I’d like to do too, once we have the means to do so.

One thing I do love doing once the weather turns chilly is making soup.  A steamy bowl of soup and a hunk of bread is my ideal winter meal.  Sadly, Luke has described himself as “just not a soup guy,” so whenever I make a pot of soup, I am responsible for consuming all of it.  I like soup, nay, love it, but this is a daunting task.  Especially considering how many different types of soup I’m dying to make this winter.

This past weekend, we drove down to Connecticut to visit my parents.  We most likely won’t be back down until after Christmas, so this was our “holiday” trip.  And of course the gift I bestowed upon my parents was extra soup!  I gave potato leek soup to my mom and stepdad and wild mushroom soup to my dad.  Talk about spreading holiday cheer!

I’m sharing the wild mushroom soup with you first because I made it first.  My grandma sent me this recipe because Luke loves mushrooms, and I’m always looking for ways to get him to eat vegetables.  Needless to say, he enjoyed it a lot, but he can’t eat soup all week, so I had some leftovers.  This soup is creamy and perfectly spiced.  Luke requested that I add potatoes to give the soup more body, and I thought it was a great addition.

Wild Mushroom Soup

Adapted from Family Circle Magazine

Makes 6-8 servings

3 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, diced (I used onions)

1 ½ lbs mixed wild mushrooms, sliced (I used a mix of cremini and reconstituted shitake)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

7 cups low sodium chicken broth

¾ cup heavy cream

¼ dry sherry (I used dry white wine)

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)

Melt butter in a large, lidded pot over medium heat.  Add shallots (or onions) and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.  Add mushrooms and thyme and cook for 8 minutes.  Sprinkle in flour, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in heavy cream, sherry (or wine), salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Mix in parsley (if using) and serve.