Hopefully this creamy, healthy, spicy soup will keep our friends warm in the cold weather….This soup is fast, easy and nutritional, with tons of veggies and lentils. I like making it a little spicy, and love using a fresh mexican salsa, avocado, tomato and cucumber salsa and/or even shredded radicchio salad on top…a dollop of sour cream works too!!
Creamed Lentil and Vegetable Soup
-2 1/2 cups of green lentils rinsed
-4 stalks of celery chopped in chunks
-1 large yellow onion cut in chunks
-3 scallions peeled and quartered
-5 carrots peeled and chopped in chunks
-2 cups of chopped mushrooms
-1 red bell pepper cut in chunks
-1 red hot pepper fresh chopped finely
-4 cloves of garlic, peeled whole and smashed
-1 ripe tomato cut in pieces or 1tbls tomato paste
-5 cups of broth vegetable, chicken of beef
-2 tbls olive oil extra virgin
-1 tsp cumin seeds
-1 tbls of chili powder
-1tsp of ground oregano
-sea salt and ground pepper
-in a soup pot add olive oil, garlic cloves and hot pepper, lightly brown the garlic to release it’s flavor
-add all the vegetables and lentils, stirring with the pepper and garlic
-add the broth and seasonings
-cook on low heat until all vegetable and lentils are soft 45-60 minutes (note-if lentils absorb cooking liquid add more broth at anytime during cooking)
-off of the heat, with an immersion blender puree the soup into a cream
-serve with chopped avocado, fresh salsas and or sour cream
Before we go any further, I think it is time to get down to some basics and one of them is Pasta. Pasta….is a basic here in Italy. Sometimes the easiest dishes are the hardest to get perfect. Pasta seems easy, but when not cooked properly it can end up a soggy, starchy mess. The following recipe Pasta 101, will walk you through a step by step method for cooking dried pasta and ensuring it is al dente (firm to the bite) every time !
I will accompany the Pasta 101 recipe with a nice, Springtime fresh chunky tomato sauce with thyme.
Lets get started!!
This is one of my Basic recipes and can be used for all types and sizes of pastas.
-1/2 pound or 250 grams of pasta
-sauce to accompany pasta
-In a large pot fill 3/4 with cold water and place on high heat burner, bring to rolling boil, add between 1 and 2 tablespoons of gross grain sea salt (note- salt is our friend in Italian cooking, and we aren’t afraid of it!! )
-Add the pasta, stirring. Please respect the time indicated on the pasta package. (note- pasta companies are not misleading you, they are pretty accurate with their cooking times so use your timer)
-Set time for 1 minute less than time indicated, you will finish cooking your pasta in the hot skillet with it’s accompanying sauce. (note- keep the pasta water until you have finished the dish, we will use the water to elongate the sauce if needed)…..Cold sauces and sauces mixed with drained pasta we will discuss later!!
-depending on the type, use one of these tools to take the pasta out of it’s boiling water and into the sauce of choice.
The fork for all your long pastas, spaghetti, fettucini, bucatini etc… and the draining spoons for penne, rigatoni, and those types.
-When the timer sounds, pick the pasta out of the water, give it a few seconds to drain over the pot…. you don’t want to carry lots of excess water into the sauce.
-with a lively flame or on a medium setting ,stir the pasta with it’s sauce for another minute, if you need more liquid use the hot pasta water, taste for doneness, it should be al dente. (note- the cheese can be added while the pasta is cooking to combine all of your flavors)
Springtime fresh chunky tomato sauce with thyme
This recipe can be easily adjusted just add more tomatoes and thyme!!
1-2 large ripe tomatoes chopped
-1 clove of garlic
-1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
-sea salt and pepper
-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
-In a wok style skillet, large enough to hold your quantity of pasta add the olive oil and garlic clove. On a low heat lightly brown the garlic.
-Add the chopped tomatoes, sea salt, pepper and thyme. Stir and let simmer while your pasta is boiling.
-When the pasta is ready (see above) add to the skillet and stir cooking for 1 minute with a lively heat…adding pasta water if the sauce seems to be dry…. taste for salt. Either add cheese on or off flame.
Buon Appetito !!