Each year, two of my very good friends and I host what has come to be known as “The Julia Dinner”. As you might have guessed, the menu is chosen from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The first couple of years, we vowed to follow her instructions religiously and for the most part we did. Now in year four, we have found ourselves adapting slightly as we go; sometimes to suit our more modern palates but mostly to reduce the staggering amounts of butter that a 5 course meal accumulates.
This year, we went with a bistro themed menu. Mushroom Soup, Steak Tartare, Steamed Mussels and Crepes Suzette were among the offerings. Needless to say, it was a lot of food. Underscore a lot.
I tell you this because after nights like this, I need to make a peace offering to my digestive system. Something simple and healthy. Something that doesn’t take 16 steps to make. Something with no butter.
This recipe comes courtesy of Melissa Clark. I modified it only slightly – adding a bit of zest during the cooking to bring out the lemon flavour and saving the salt to the end, as I have found that seasoning lentils with salt prior to cooking can affect their texture.
Lentil Soup with Lemon
- 3-4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- pinch of ground cayenne/paprika/chipotle (whatever your favourite flavour profile)
- 6 cups of chicken stock (veggie if you prefer)
- 2 cups red lentils
- juice of one lemon, plus 1/2 tsp zest
- chopped cilantro/mint/parsley to garnish
On most days, I will freely admit that I have drunk The Kitchn’s koolaid. I love their blog and generally find it packed with fresh ideas, interesting ingredients, kitchen wisdom and great design. So, imagine my horror when I came across this post. To even suggest that Potato and Leek soup is not loved by all of humanity…I could barely read on. OK…I am being a bit melodramatic, but I do really love this soup. I believe it is a combination of its mellow flavours and some pleasant childhood memories. It might also have something to do with my deep love of potatoes. Regardless of the reason, I thought I would share my take on this winter classic with you. I find the slow roasted garlic really adds the flavour.
Creamy Potato & Leek Soup
makes a lot
- 6 big potatoes (I generally use russet)
- 3 leeks, washed – white and light green parts only
- 3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 6 c. organic chicken stock
- coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 c. low-fat sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 2 c. milk
- 1 head of garlic
- glug of olive oil
SUGGESTED TOPPINGS to further jazz this up: sauteed pancetta, grated Gruyere cheese, a drizzle of herb-infused olive oil, diced red peppers and scallions, roasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled sausage (cooked of course) and so on and so on.
This recipe is currently my favourite soup, and has held the title for quite a while now. Aside from being packed with healthy things (spinach and chickpeas, for example) it has the hearty warmth that I think we are all looking for when we pull out the stock pot at this time of year.
I also have a very funny story about this soup and a valuable lesson learned about making sure you open the little vents on the top of your blender lid when adding very hot liquid…you can fill in the blanks but suffice it to say that the mess was impressive.
Chorizo & Chickpea Stew
Adapted from the talented Jaime Oliver
- glug of olive oil
- 2 chorizo sausages – finely chopped
- 1 onion – peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 sticks of celery – finely chopped
- medium head of spinach – washed and roughly chopped
- 8 fresh tomatoes – de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 28 oz can of chickpeas – rinsed
- 5 c. chicken stock
- coarse salt & ground black pepper
- 55 grams-ish of proscuitto or if you can find it pata negra – finely chopped
- 2 hard boiled eggs (don’t skip these…they add a lot to the soup)
- olive oil (for garnish)