Tag Archives: lentils

Souper Sundays

Since Winter is once more upon us, and Since that means colddddddd weather, and Since Soup is Good Food….

And a pot of soup made on Sunday is lunch and quick supper through the week. Or freezer fodder, to be mined and microwaved at nearly a moment’s notice.

Soups of Italy

Norma Wasserman-Miller Soups of Italy. William Morrow and Co 1998. I’ve had my copy since 2000.

130 soup recipes, each with a story…and sooo many happy endings

Soup for the year round, but I spend the most time with this book in the Winter

Norma writes:

Above all else, soup remains una cucina di casa, “a cuisine of the home.” Indeed, it was the homes and kitchens of so many gracious Italian friends and professional cooks that inspired the recipes and techniques for this book. The numerous recipes I came across had a notable lack of measurements and a heavy reliance on the words in stagione, “in season.” Perhaps this is what I love most about Italian soup cookery – a reliance on simple, good ingredients along with the inventiveness to effortlessly turn them into flavorful soups with character and individuality.

Itroduzione, p. 3.

Norma Wasserman-Miller

Norma Wasserman- Miller . She paints in London now.

Here are the component parts of the soup story:

Battuto – often soffritto – that is the aromatic/ soffritto just means ‘fried’. There are 3 universal solvents – one of them is oil – onions, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots, peppers, even parsley heated in some oil, smells good, tastes, good, this is the base

Sapori – the main ingredients, the big taste.

Brodo – the liquid – don’t overlook water as a broth ; broth, meat or veg  -Water is the second universal solvent…alcohol is the third, so a little wine can boost everything else up

Condimenti – the things added at the end, but also the garnishes and accompaniments – fresh herbs, slices of bread, freshly grated cheese; a dash of vinegar, balsamic or otherwise, or a squeeze of citrus liven things up nicely … also, the things you often add to the bowl and not the pot.

But the lentil soup I made on this first weekend of the New Year, was from somewhere else, but follows the Soups of Italy game plan.

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Tomato

3 Tbl olive oil

1# fresh Italian sausage, either sweet or hot

1 onion

2 carrots

2 celery ribs

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

4 garlic cloves

2 Quarts low sodium broth (I used 2 boxes of the chicken broth with wine and herbs. You can also use homemade broth, just add a slug of wine (say 4-8 ounces)

1 28 oz can diced plum tomatoes (or whole, and then break them up)

2 C lentils – pick through them and rinse them

1 Tbl Dijon mustard

½ C chopped fresh parsley (the bunches in the grocery store have been all over the place this winter – I’ve had some bunches that were big enough to be a bride’s bouquet and others closer to boutonnière size – flat or curly, cook’s choice, and save the stems for soup stock)

  1. Heat 1 Tbl of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add the sausages and cook them until they are brown all over, 7-10 minutes.
  2. Mince the onion; peel and chop the carrots and chop the celery – you can include the leaves.
  3. Remove sausages to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Add the remaining 2 Tbl of oil to the pot and then the chopped onion, carrot, celery. Add the bay leaves and ½ tsp salt.
  5. Stir frequently, until it is all light golden and fragrant.
  6. Mince the garlic (I confess, I use a press) and add to the pot, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the broth (wine if you’re using), the canned tomatoes (squeeze the whole ones through your fingers so they don’t turn into little red rubber balls bobbing along in the soup, and the juice of the tomatoes), and the rinsed lentils to the pot.
  8. Add 1 tsp salt and pepper (this salt is to season the lentils – if you are not using a low sodium broth you can skip this step)
  9. Increase heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, cover and reduce heat for a simmer.
  10. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  11. Meanwhile, cut the sausages into ½ inch thick slices.
  12. When the lentils are tender, remove and discard the bay leaves.
  13. Stir in the Dijon mustard, add the sausage slices and cook until the sausage is heated thoroughly, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add the chopped parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Adapted from Stand-Up Soups, Adam Reid in the Boston Globe Magazine, 2-2-2014, p. 22, which was adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Drucker and Clara Silverstein.

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Meatless Monday

Since earlier this month, I encourage eating a little less meat, it seems only right to offer the occasional meatless option.

This is a recipe from my cousin Flora, who got it from her mother, my mother’s big sister.   One of the joys/confusions of a big family is that generations start to meld. My mother is the youngest of 10, and Flora was the youngest daughter of the the oldest daughter…so Flora and my mother were close enough in age to be raised more like sisters. It was confusing when I was little to have a cousin who was also a grown-up

Flora’s birthday was the 23rd of January. Birthdays in our family, especially since so many of us are Snow Babies, and Winters in New England  can throw a monkey wrench in the best laid travel plans, are often observed officially rather then on just the day itself. And they can stack up, so one cake could be for more then one birthday – unless there were more then one cake….. The end result is that I’m always a little murky on the actual dates of any family actual b-day.

Flora was the first cousin born over here and not in Italy, and when she was little she got to spend lots of time with Nonna, whom she had nothing but nice things to say about. Flora also took it upon herself to take the cooking of the aunties and write it down. None of them had cookbooks – they just cooked. When gathered together the talk was always about food, and where you got it, and what you did with it, and what else you might do with it, and how different people like things in different ways.

Flora passed away 2 years ago, and when I have a question on  how to make something, I remember anew that she is no longer with us. It still takes me a little by surprise. But she did leave a whole lot of recipes written down. This post is a birthday remembrance for her.

 This is a recipe we found fairly recently when going through my mother’s files looking for the original Walnut Cake recipe (we still only have copies and no the original). The Note to Irma (my mother) is on one side – the recipe is on the other.

Three types of lentils - we generally used the brown and sometimes the green and never the red.

Three types of lentils – we generally used the brown and sometimes the green and never the red.

Lentils and Macaroni

1 cup lentils

1 tomato

1 celery stalk

1 small onion, diced

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

Macaroni, cooked

  1. Soak 1 cup lentils ½ hour. Empty into a colander and rinse. Return lentils to the pan.

  2. Add: 1 cut up tomato, 1 cut up celery stalk, 1 small onion, diced, 1 tbs salt, 2 tbs oil and water – at least 2 inches higher.

  3. Bring to a boil.

  4. Simmer 1 hour.

  5. Add cooked macaroni.(She doesn’t mention how much, but seldom did we cook less then a pound…and ditalini or tubertini or some little pasta that wold hold on to lentils would be best)

  6. Ditalini

    Ditalini

  7. Let flavors blend 5 minutes.

From note to Irma from Flora. Flora mentions 41 years of marriage, so maybe this was written in 2001?

The note:

Irma,

This is my mother’s recipe as given to me 41 years ago. Over the years I have changed things slightly. I put in less onion, less salt, little, if any, oil.  I top the dish with grating cheese. It’s a good meatless dish for Friday. Every time I make this dish, I have to endure Bob (who loves lentils) telling me “Lentils – the oldest dish in the world. Did you know Christ ate lentils?” After 41 years of this repartee, I am ready to crown him with the lentils.

Flora

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