You have more than likely been spending a lot of time in the kitchen over the last few weeks; baking, preparing special dinners, maybe even hosting a few parties. And you have probably just about had it. But dinner still has to get on the table, and who wants to spend even more on takeout after the spending frenzy of the last weeks?
Enter a good, fridge-clearing soup. This one is from The Kitchn's weekly email, but if you've made soup before you can figure out how to improvise. It uses broth, any odds and ends of vegetables you have lying around, and even a bit of meat could work here ... I'd also toss in some turmeric or cumin to spice it up. It's also pretty healthy ... a nice bonus after days of rich food. And all you have to do is lay hands on some bread and maybe a salad for a nice, light but satisfying meal.
Fridge-Clearing Lentil Soup (from Sara Kate of The Kitchn)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion (of any color), chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 pound chopped bacon, pancetta or ham, optional
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2" - 1" knob ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional
2 bay leaves
1 pound dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 - 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chopped fridge-cleared vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, leafy greens, etc.)
Yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche plus chopped herbs and/or chopped onion for garnish
How to make it:
1. In a large soup pot (6 quart capacity or more), heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion 1-2 minutes until softening, then add garlic and bacon.
2. Add a teaspoon or so of salt and a few cranks of pepper. Cook until bacon browns a bit, another minute or so. Add the ginger, optional red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and lentils. Pour over enough stock to cover. Raise the heat to bring to a boil then lower to a simmer over medium low heat and cover.
3. If adding hard vegetables like carrots, add them after 15 minutes. This is also when to add the tomatoes. If adding medium-hard vegetables like cauliflower or squash, add after 20 minutes. If adding leafy greens, add when lentils are almost cooked through.
4. Cook a total of 30-40 minutes, checking in every 10 minutes to stir the pot. Soup is done when lentils and vegetables are tender, but not falling apart. If soup needs more liquid at any time, stir in a cup or two. (It should look like thick soup, but not like thick chili.) When consistency is right, check for seasoning and adjust as needed. Fish out the bay leaves and discard or compost.
For a smoother soup, blend some or all of it in a blender (careful when the soup is hot to blend in small batches.) Return the blended soup to the pot and stir. After blending it may need more liquid. It also will probably need more liquid after cooling and reheated as leftovers.
Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and/or chopped onion or herbs.
Image via WhitneyinChicago/Flickr