Monday, October 20, 2008

Soup in the Leaves

Though the nights are frosty, we have so far resisted turning on our heat and stuffing our precious wood into the fireplace because: a) we haven't cleaned out the chimneys yet, b) we are cheap, er, frugal, yeah, that's it, and c) we have plenty of sweaters and furry friends to keep us toasty at night. It is definitely soup and stew season, and I used my day off to peruse my cookbooks for a new soup recipe for "No Croutons Required", a monthly soup and salad cooking event alternately hosted by Tinned Tomatoes in Scotland and Lisa's Kitchen in Ontario. This month's challenge is to create a hearty vegetarian soup that would stand alone as a filling meal on a chilly day, and I came up with just such a soup.

Inspiration was divined by "Chef on a Shoestring", edited by Andrew Friedman (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2001) and based on the CBS Early Show feature in which top chefs produce budget-friendly meals. I was hooked on a recipe Greenwich Village chef Jeanette Maier served at her Herban Kitchen restaurant for Hearty Root Vegetable and Lentil Stew with Three Herbs. Perusal of the Crispy larder came up rootless, veggie wise, however, and I didn't have a couple of other ingredients, but with a little substitution here and there I concocted this satisfying, hearty, and vegetarian pottage:

Autumnal Peasant Soup

2 Tbsp. 0live oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

12 oz. small lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used a beautiful autumn blend of brown, grey and orange lentils from my health food store. They look divine dried but all turn the same shade of brown when cooked).

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 qts. vegetable stock, homemade if possible
5 small potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced (I used a small bag of baby carrots that had been hiding in the fridge and were unappealingly dessicated to eat out of hand, but were fine cooked)

1/2 head medium cabbage, chopped (next time I would chope more finely)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add herbs and caraway seeds and cook another 2 minutes.

Add lentils, tomatoes, vegetable stock, potatoes, celery and carrots and bring to boil. Lower heat, stir, cover and simmer on low heat about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are fairly well cooked. Add cabbage, stir and cook another 10 minutes, or until cabbage is softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 main dish servings, 6-8 starter servings.

This is the last day for the Hearty Vegetarian Soup No Croutons Event, so I am squeaking into eligibility, but check back on Lisa's Kitchen later in the month for a satisfying, seasonal roundup.


Sarah said...

Yum! I love a good, hearty stew for a cold day. We're not a brave as you; we've had our heat on and off for about a week now. But it only gets up to maybe 60 degrees during the day if we're lucky.

We pulled out our winter bedspread and have been sleeping under that. I love the heavy weight of it on me when I sleep!

Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

Love the picture (and recipe)! We had our first frost last night, so it's definitely soup weather :)

Anonymous said...

I love the photo!

Christo Gonzales said...

the photo made me do a double take...

Anonymous said...

Your peasant soup looks sensational! I love the addition of lentils :). Nothing beats a warm and hearty stew on a cold day. I would love to include your recipe in our pre-loaded Demy, the first and only digital recipe reader. Please email if you're interested.

To find out more about the Demy, you can visit this site:


Anonymous said...

you're so artistic!

my "E" post is finally up. again, many thanks!

Srivalli said...

Thats a nice picture..sure makes it interesting!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Hard to beat a lentil soup like that for warming-power. And you've taken such a lovely picture of it!