Kale and Red Lentil Soup

Kale SoupMy inspiration for today’s recipe was a spice rack that I got for Christmas. Thank you, Sonia, for this beautiful gift. The 20-jar revolving spice rack has dry herbs and spices that are of the highest quality. I used rosemary and thyme in my soup today. If you don’t own a spice rack, I recommend that you get one. Having spices and herbs at your fingertips is a time saver in the kitchen.

My love for kale is no secret and I’m using it in the soup of the day. Kale has been a very popular vegetable recently. Doctors have named it one of the world’s healthiest foods. Kale has antioxidant-related health benefits, anti-inflammatory health benefits, and cancer-preventive benefits. It also provides cardiovascular support, controls blood glucose levels, improves bone health, and helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

I also used red lentils (masoor dal) in the soup. You can find red lentils at your regular grocery store or at the Indian grocery store. I used the split red lentils instead of the whole red lentils, because they cook faster. Take the time and effort to wash the kale well. If the stems on the kale are tough, remove them and use only the leaves. You can use some of the tender stems, but cut them into small pieces.

My family enjoyed this soup a lot and I hope you will too.

Kale and Lentil Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons sliced garlic
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup split red lentils, (masoor dal)
2 cups water
1 can (14.5 oz 411 g) diced Tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz 439 g) Goya small red beans
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, (optional)
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
7 cups low-sodium stock, (vegetable or chicken)
4 cups kale
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

De-stem the kale by pulling the leaves away from the stem. Wash the leaves and tear (or cut) them into small bite size pieces. If you use the tender stem, cut them into small pieces. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Stir and when they turn translucent, add turmeric and lentils. Stir and cook for a minute. Add two cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Partially cover the saucepan with a lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. The lentils should be well cooked before you add the rest of the ingredients.

Add the tomatoes, red beans, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, pepper, salt, and vegetable stock. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the kale, turn the heat to medium-low, and let the soup simmer for ten minutes. Serve in soup bowls and garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

French Green Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup4

French Green Lentils (Lentilles du Puy) were originally grown in the volcanic soils near Puy in France but now they are also grown in North America and Italy. Green lentils don’t turn mushy and hold their shape well after cooking so they are especially good in salads. They are said to have top fiber content compared to other lentils.

I found a packet of organic green lentils at Whole Foods and could not resist trying them out in this lentil soup. I followed the same recipe that I use for my Moroccan lentil soup. The green lentils added richness and consistency to the soup. They take longer to cook than other lentils so I soaked them in boiling water for 15 minutes before adding them to the soup. If you do not have green lentils, you can use brown or red lentils instead. You will not need to soak them and they will take less time to cook. Adjust the chilli flakes and pepper to suit your palate. Fresh thyme leaves is the secret ingredient in this recipe so try using them instead of dry thyme leaves.

I’ve been posting soup recipes for the past few weeks and you can blame the cold weather on the East Coast for that. So, hang in there with me, while I try to keep my family warm with soup for supper.

Lentil Soup
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves: 10

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
4 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons grated garlic
1 tablespoons minced thyme leaves, (or 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves)
1 cup chopped leeks, (white parts only)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cups medium-diced celery
3 cups medium-diced carrots
¼ cup tomato paste
2½ cups green lentils, (you can also use brown or red lentils)
12 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Rinse and soak the green lentils in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Add oil to a large pot, over medium-high heat. When it shimmers add bay leaf, onion, ginger, garlic, thyme, leeks and salt. Sauté until onion turns translucent. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, chili flakes, ground pepper, celery, carrots, and tomato paste. Stir and cook until the oil separates.

Drain the lentils and add to the soup. Then add the chicken or vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Once the soup starts boiling, turn the heat to medium-low, remove the lid and let the soup simmer and cook for one hour. Add lemon juice and red wine vinegar, stir and check to see if the salt is sufficient. Turn off the heat. Cover the soup and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Reheat the soup when you are ready to serve. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Lentil Soup Packet

Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup2

Broccoli and cheddar cheese soup has always been a favorite of mine. It’s a comforting soup with all the creamy richness of cheddar cheese and broccoli. I still remember the first time I ordered it in a restaurant in California. I was hooked and I knew I had to learn how to make it.

You don’t need a whole lot of ingredients and it takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. Making the soup begins with a simple roux, like they make in restaurants. I’ve used whole milk, heavy cream, mild cheddar cheese, and vegetable stock. You could switch the mild cheddar for sharp cheddar cheese, if you please.

For a lighter version, you could use oilive oil, evaporated fat-free milk, reduced fat half and half, and reduced fat cheddar cheese. Also, make sure that you use low-sodium vegetable stock or make your stock from scratch using my vegetable stock recipe. I’ve also seen recipes using unsweetened almond or coconut milk instead of milk and heavy cream.

Well, here’s how you make my version of broccoli and cheddar cheese soup. I had it for lunch today, with a piece of whole wheat bread. I really enjoyed it and I hope you will too.

Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

3 tablespoons butter
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
2 cups vegetable stock, (or chicken stock)
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups broccoli florets, (1 pound; I used some of the tender stems as well)
2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese, (8 ounces; set aside ¼ cup to garnish the soup)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they turn soft. It will take about three minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and flour. Stir constantly and cook for one minute. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk, vegetable stock and heavy cream. Add salt and pepper. Stir constantly and cook until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the broccoli. Cook for ten minutes, stirring once in a while, to make sure it is not catching to the bottom of the pan. Off the heat and add cheese. Stir until all the cheese is melted. Garnish each bowl of soup with a little grated cheese.

Note:  You could serve the soup as is or you could puree the soup in a blender, heat it up again, and then serve. I used a potato masher to mash half of the soup and I left the other half chunky. If the soup is too thick you can thin it down with vegetable stock or water.

Winter Soup

Winter Soup1

Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a chilly night, and we’ve been having a lot of those recently. This recipe is sure to become one of your staples. It calls for vegetable stock – a recipe I shared with you last week.

This is a hearty vegetable soup with earthy garbanzos, potatoes, and kale. I’ve browned  the potatoes lightly to deepen their flavor.

I use only the green part of the kale leaves. An easy way to prepare the kale for this soup is to hold each kale leaf upside down by the stem and pull the leaves off, then stack the large greens one on top of the other, roll them into tight bundles and slice them into thin strips.

Hope you get a chance to relax, sit by the fire, and enjoy this delicious soup this winter.

Winter Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups 1-inch cubed potatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon chilli flakes, (optional)
salt to taste
3 cups chopped kale leaves, (tough ribs and stems removed)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable stock, (check my recipe or use low sodium store-bought vegetable stock)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes. Cover and cook for four to five minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, pepper, chili flakes, and kale. Stir and let the kale wilt. Add tomatoes, garbanzo and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the soup starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup2A bowl of hot soup is a welcome comfort on cold winter evenings. I make soup for dinner quite often  because it is easy to make, filling, and light enough for an evening meal. The mushroom soup recipe that I am sharing with you today is a basic recipe which can be changed easily with whatever vegetables you have on hand. For example, if you don’t have enough mushrooms, you could add a potato, two carrots, two sticks of celery and make a vegetable soup. Soup and toasted cheese sandwiches are made for each other. Try this recipe and let me know how it turns out. Stay warm!

Mushroom Soup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups chopped button mushroom and stems
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup hot water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Wipe the mushroom clean and slice into ¼ in thick pieces. You can use the stems as well.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until transparent. It will take about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and stir well so that the pieces are coated with butter. You can turn the heat up to medium high at this point. Stir once in a while until the mushrooms release their liquid. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot and cook until all the water evaporates.

Add chicken stock or vegetable stock and the hot water. Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mushroom are fully cooked and tender. It will take about 20 minutes. Let the soup cool.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Put the puree back into the large pot and add the cream. Bring to simmer over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with croutons and little blobs of cream.