Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lentil Soup

I have fond memories of eating lentils with rice on a couple of week-long Boy Scout hikes across the Isthmus of Panama. There's not much that's more restorative to body and spirit after a day of a long slog, much of it in thigh-deep water, up and over the Continental Divide, particularly when paired with a good bit of Tabasco Sauce. We changed it out for red or black beans from night to night to vary the menu, but that was the typical fare - good, hearty campesino fare, augmented on at least a couple of nights with some wild turkey. (The bird, not the whiskey - remember, we were Boy Scouts.)

Lentils make great soup, too. This is an adaptation of something I found in the latest Joy of Cooking. I started out by making a simple stock from the bone out of a pork roast that I'd used for something else, and two quarts of water:

I know, that picture isn't very exciting. Trust me, though; good things are going on inside that pressure cooker. Meanwhile, I prepped everything else, starting with picking over the lentils.

It used to be the case that you'd always find a rock or two in a package of dried beans or lentils. Nowadays, not so much - I think they've gotten pretty good about cleaning them in processing.

We still have to wash them, of course. I like this Japanese rice-washing bowl for that. Note the slots in the pour spout - those allow us to wash and drain the lentils (or rice, etc.) in the same vessel. 

And here are most of the rest of the raw ingredients: carrots, celery, garlic, onion, bacon, tomatoes, and thyme. 

You don't have to have a Belgian-style wit with some orange wedges squeezed into it on hand, but it helps. (Note to beer snobs: yes, I know Blue Moon is brewed by Coors.)

Chop up all the vegetables and the bacon:

Meanwhile, the pork bone has been in the pressure cooker for nearly an hour, and that's long enough. Here's the finished stock:

And the bone by itself. After it cools, I'll cut all the remaining meat off that bone and chop it up for the soup. No, the dogs don't get the bone - that thing's had all of its substance pretty well boiled out, and is too brittle for them to chew on.

Getting back to the vegetables, we sweat them in a bit of olive oil. We don't want them to get brown; just tender. 

Note that I'm using the pressure cooker even though I'm not going to cook this under pressure. Why dirty another pan?

Here's the rest of the ingredients: some leftover boiled potato and some Andouille sausage I had in the freezer. I'll dice the potatoes and slice up the sausage - so, no, this isn't a vegetarian dish.

Here's what we want the vegetables to look like:

Add the lentils, tomatoes, and thyme:

... and the stock. Bring it to a gentle boil and stir occasionally. 

After about an hour, it'll look like this:

Add in the potato and sausage, and the pork from the bone, and adjust the seasoning. This needed some salt and pepper, but I didn't want to salt it before it was done because of the bacon.

And here it is in a cup. I actually ended up thinning this out a bit more with some chicken stock. Damn fine eating on a cool day with some saltine crackers and a bit of Sriracha sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment