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Archive for the ‘soup’ Category

What are you waiting for?  Sometimes I feel as though I’m constantly waiting for something.  I think as humans we are programmed to be forward thinking, always concerned with the future.  Maybe it’s what keeps us going, keeps us excited about life, all the good things to come.

Recently, I have been waiting for spring, and Mother Nature has kept all of us New Yorkers in suspense.  Hot then cold, sunny then rainy, but now it seems like it (might be) here!  In fact, I spent a good portion of my day out in a neighborhood park, attempting to read but mostly just sunbathing.

And now I am waiting impatiently, along with my entire family, for my sister’s baby to come along.  No one is more anxious for this event than my sister, as she has been on bed rest for a few weeks now.  The waiting is so difficult but as my sister has reported to me, an excellent exercise in patience.

How can we make peace with waiting, with the fact that we simply cannot control everything and often must wait for life to unfold as it should?  Maybe the key is to enjoy the waiting itself.  After all it is part of living, and if we never had to wait or work for the beautiful things in life, I doubt they be as sweet upon arrival.  Enjoying the waiting, certainly easier said than done!  But perhaps somewhat less painful when we are surrounded by good company and good food.  And that has been the case with my sister as she has luckily had many visitors, often bringing food and treats, by her side during this time.

When I was last visiting, I made one of my favorite springtime soups for my sister and her husband.  I love making soups and stews and have discovered that they are not just for winter.  In the spring, I switch to lighter soups, clear broths, and enjoy incorporating springtime vegetables.  Now is the time for truly fresh, local asparagus, peas, and broccolini (a cross between the broccoli we all grew up with and a type of Chinese broccoli, it is sweet and tender and delicious).

This recipe is honestly one of the top 5 most delicious (and easiest!) soups I have ever made.  Seriously.  That is a pretty big deal considering how many soups I’ve made!  Here you go:

-8-10 spears of fresh asparagus sliced on the diagonal OR the same amount of broccolini
-1 cup snow peas
-1/2 cup frozen or fresh green peas
-3 medium carrots sliced thinly
-3/4 c. uncooked brown rice (Heidi called for brown basmati, but all I had was regular so you can go with either)
-6 cups of vegetable broth
-2 shallots chopped (or 1 medium-sized yellow onion)
-3 cloves of garlic
-ground black pepper
-dash of red pepper
-parmesan cheese to taste (if you like)


Chop up the onions or shallots.  In a soup pot, heat olive oil or clarified butter over medium heat.  Toss in the onions and garlic and once it is soft and smelling beautifully, toss in the rice and stir for a minute.  Add in the broth and bring to a boil then turn the burner low and cover.  Cook rice as you normally would–depending on which kind you use it will take about 35-40 minutes.  You want the rice to be tender but not too tender since you will cook it a bit longer once you add the vegetables.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the other veggies….the asparagus or broccolini should be cut on a diagonal into about 1 inch pieces.  Cut the the snow peas in half.  Carrots should be sliced in half or thirds and then sliced very thinly.

Once the rice is tender (but not too soft!)  add in the asparagus (or broccolini) and the carrots, 2 minutes later add in the frozen peas and snow peas.  Stay by the stove and let it simmer for about 3-4 more minutes.  The important trick here is that you do NOT want the vegetables to get too soft.  They are yummiest and have the most nutrients in them when they are still somewhat crunchy.  The asparagus or broccolini will turn bright green and you’ll know you can turn the burner off.  I enjoy this soup with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, but you can dress it up as you like.

A great dish for any springtime table and an especially lovely dish to enjoy while wasting the waiting time away. Enjoy!

(Also, I must wish a big Happy Mother’s day to everyone who is a Mom, or a mother to be, or plays a loving, maternal role in someone’s life.  I am at once all of my Mother’s experiences and my own, my Mother helped me grow my wings and let me fly and I thank her for that.)

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Hi folks!  Here in New York spring is starting to make an appearance.  On Saturday, I was with my running group in Central Park and everywhere there were signs of her–little hints and glimpses that were just enough to make my whole being feel lighter.  The sun seemed warmer, people and dogs were out in full force, and the snow had given way to green grass.  I even seen the tops of spring flowers poking their heads through the soil.  All this is to say, it looks like the season of hearty soups is winding down to a close.  It seems like just the other day, a chill in the autumn air had me all excited to dust off the big soup pot in preparation for a lovely lentil and veggie stew.  I think the following recipe might actually be the last lentil soup I make of the season!

Although I am such a soup fan that a piece of me is sad to see soup weather go, I am definitely welcoming the spring with arms open wide.  Also, I am starting to drool over the thought of a FRESH tomato!  Ok, ok, I might be getting a little ahead of myself here, given that in the Northeast we won’t be getting our hands on any locally grown tomatoes for quite a few weeks.  But fresh spring veggies are lovely too–I’m really looking forward to mixed salad greens, garlic scapes, and oooooh fresh asparagus!  Come on, you know that asparagus grown overseas during winter just doesn’t taste right!  I’m already planning two spring time soups–garlic scape and potato soup and springtime minestrone (in which lovely in-season asparagus plays a starring role).

But let’s jump back to the present.  Every time I make a new lentil soup, I feel as though I’ve broken the mold, hit the jackpot.  I’m so certain that I’ve found my favorite recipe that I pretty much never want to try a new one.  And then, I do…..and I realize that each is more spectacular than the rest!  That’s because the lentil is delicious, filling, versatile, and (luckily) very nutritious.  This recipe is based off of one my mother gave me.  She found it in a low glycemic index cookbook.  It is a good platform for you to express yourself since it is somewhat bare bones.  I took the outline and ran with it.  It’s yummy, spicy, and best of all, super easy.  Here goes:

olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 medium carrots, chopped

3 medium potatoes, whatever kind you have laying around

lots of garlic minced (say about 4-6 cloves)

1/2 tsp tumeric

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cumin

cayenne pepper to taste

6 cups water

1 1/2 cups veggie stock

1 cup red lentils

1/2 cup pearl barley

1 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes, undrained

salt and pepper to taste

Chop all the veggies, warm the oil in your soup pan.  Add onion and cook for about 10 min, until they brown slightly.  Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes, and spices.  Stir up and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the water, stock, lentils, barley, tomatoes and salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 45 minutes until everything is tender and looks good enough to eat.

Note:  red lentils are different from their other lentil cousins–they break down a lot.  Don’t be worried if they look mushy or even disappear.  That’s what happens but the texture ends up being a lovely partner to the denseness of the barley.

I hope you can make this warming, fragrant soup on a damp winter-spring-in-between day.

Enjoy!

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