Showing posts with label Cookbook Sundays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cookbook Sundays. Show all posts

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rajma (North Indian Vegetarian Chili) Spiked with Cumin for Food 'N Flix: The Mistress of Spices and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

In her San Francisco shop, Spice Bazaar, Tilo finds the perfect spices to help her customers--not just to create the perfect dish, but to help them achieve their desires. Tilo is a Mistress of Spices, one of several trained as a young girl and spread throughout the world. Tilo must devote herself to the spices, giving up her life for them and never loving anyone but the spices. She must follow three rules; never using the power of the spices for herself--only for others, never leaving her shop so she will not stray from the spices, and finally, never touch another's skin. If she breaks these rules she will fail in her duties and face the consequences. Things are going smoothly until Doug, an American architect, crashes his motorcycle in front of her shop, and Tilo begins to fall in love, much to the ire of the spices.

I first encountered The Mistress of Spices, in its written form, the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I liked the lyrical writing and magical realism of the book and bought a copy of the movie when it came out several years later. The movie stars the beautiful Aishwarya Rai and (the beautiful) Dylan McDermott. It's funny--in the book Tilo, although young, appears to most of the world as a gnarled old woman--not quite as glamorous as exotic Aishwarya. ;-)

It's not fine cinema, as pretty as they are, there isn't a whole lot of chemistry between the two stars. Still, it's a visually sumptuous foodie film that I pull out every so often when I need a little escape and I was happy to watch it again when Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla selected it as the Food 'N Flix film for June. 

Tilo says that every person has a special spice and I declare cumin as mine. As I am no Mistress of Spices, this is mostly based on how much I love it. After black pepper, it is the most common spice used in the world by many different countries, cultures and cuisines. I adore the warm, earthy taste that it adds to dishes--so perfect with beans or in soups, stews and curries. I knew I wanted to make something with cumin for my dish inspired by the film. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi has a small role in the film as a Geeta--modern girl whose grandfather seeks Tilo's help to keep her from straying from tradition and away from her non-Indian boyfriend. Lakshmi's first cookbook, Easy Exotic, had a recipe for Rajma, a North Indian vegetarian curry that she says is like a chili and (my) spice cumin, was one of the ingredients.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe--noted in red below. In addition to the cumin seed in the recipe, I added ground cumin, and I increased the garlic and beans.

Padma says, "Originally from North India, this dish could be called vegetarian chili. You may serve it in a bowl over rice or with warmed tortillas like the Chole. In North India, flatbreads such as nan or chapati are eaten with curries. In South India, rice is more common a an accompaniment, although we also eat crepes made of rice flour, called dosai."

Rajma (North Indian Vegetarian Chili) Spiked with Cumin
Adapted from Easy Exotic by Padma Lakshmi
(Serves 4)
Prep Time: 10 Minutes / Cook Time: 25 Minutes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup minced onions
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3)
4 firm, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp minced gingerroot, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
(1 tsp ground cumin) 
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
2 cups drained kidney beans (I used 2 15-oz cans)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced, or to taste
3 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan set over moderate heat, warm the oil until hot, add the onions and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, gingerroot, cumin seeds, Garam Masala, lemon pepper, and dried red pepper flakes, if desired, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.

Notes/Results: Nourishing and satisfying, this is a simple and tasty chili that goes together quickly. The fact that it is meat-free and the fresh tomatoes and lemon give it a lighter feel, making a good warmer weather chili. I found that with the extra cumin and garlic I added to the recipe that it was spiced just enough for me making me think that as written, the recipe was slightly under-spiced. The other thing that I would (should have) changed would be to blanch the fresh tomatoes and remove the skin before dicing. I am not a big fan of tomato skin bits in my soups. Otherwise, served with some pieces of grilled nan bread, it was a great dinner. I would make it again with my adjustments.

If you want to join in the Food 'N Flix fun, the deadline is June 28th for Mistress of Spices, or join us in July for Because I Said So, hosted by girlichef.

This soup is also being linked up at Cookbook Sundays, hosted by my friend Sue at Couscous and Consciousness.

Now let's head to the Souper Sunday kitchen and see who is here.

First up, Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made this flavorful Homemade Tomato Soup Using Slow Roasted Tomatoes. She says, "What better dish to highlight now than one from Gwyneth Paltrow's book My Father's Daughter. ... I happened to have made a loaf of buttery white bread that morning so what a perfect companion to this soup."

Heather of girlichef shares this hearty Salpicon de Res al Chipotle or Beef and Potato Salad with Chipotle and says, "I've always loved potato salads dressed with vinegar the best.  I love the way it seeps into the warm potatoes and flavors them so seductively. This is one of those potato salads.  And it deserves top honors.  Why?  Because not only are there warm, vinegar-soaked potatoes...there is also tender, shredded beef.  And smoky chipotles.  And if that's not enough for you, there's also avocado.

Janet of The Taste Space offers up Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro (Whole Foods Detox Salad) and says, "...broccoli and and cauliflower form the vegetable base that is pulsed into small pieces. Grated carrots add more vegetables and a lovely orange! Currants confer sweetness, sunflower seeds supply crunch and protein and while the original salad uses a lemon-parsley dressing, I went with a cilantro-lime route instead. This salad needs to be marinated for best flavours, and keeps really well as leftovers.

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes sent in this summery Corn and Radish Salad and says, "I had radishes and though I didn’t have fresh corn, I had a bag of frozen corn in the freezer.  This salad was a revelation.  It was so good and so incredibly easy.  The sweet corn combined with the peppery bite of the relish was perfect.  The jalapeño added just the right amount of heat and the lime juice balanced the sweetness of the corn. I highly recommend that you add this your summer salads!"  

Ana of Sweet Almond Tree is getting healthy with this Tuna and Bean Salad and says, "Canned beans can be found in just about everyone's pantry.  Canned tuna fish is a pantry staple as well.  So when time is short or when the weather is hot, here is a delicious and nutritious salad that can be prepared in a jiffy.  It's an easy, light meal that can be prepared for lunch or dinner without any cooking involved."

Sue of Couscous and Consciousness enjoyed Lentils with Cherries, Sausage & Gorgonzola this week and says, "Now this may sound like a really odd combination of ingredients, and it's probably not going to win any prizes in the looks department either, but somehow it really works.  The musky, earthiness of the lentils makes a great "backdrop" to the little "hits" of the tangy cherries, the porcine deliciousness of the sausage or bacon, and the salty Gorgonzola - for a vegetarian option, I think mushrooms would make a great alternative to the sausage."

Debbie of Easy Natural Food tried this satisfying Ginger and Lime Chicken Salad and says, "This is a delicious salad that I made the other night when we had company for dinner. I served it as a side, but I could easily eat this as my main course if it was double the size  I used a ginger and lime dressing on this salad. It was very light, bright and refreshing, and oh so tasty. I definitely plan to make this salad again….very soon!"

I don't often send a salad to my own Souper Sundays round up, but this wonderful Arugula-Romaine Salad with Avocado, Blueberries and Goat Cheese using a scrumptious Lime-Cilantro Dressing from Rick Bayless' ranks as one of the best green salads that I have ever made. Such great flavors, colors and textures. It deserves a second mention at Kahakai Kitchen this week. It was summer in a bowl!

And there you have it--some fabulous dishes to inspire. Thanks to all who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my sidebar for all of the details of how to join in.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Early Corn Soup and a Book Review of I Love Corn by Lisa Skye for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I love corn. So does Lisa Skye, who loves it enough to write a cookbook about this sweet and sunny vegetable. In her new cookbook, I Love Corn (Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, June 2012, Hardcover 7 1/2" x 7 1/2", 160 pages), Skye has collected fifty corn recipes from around the world and included recipes from renowned chefs and food personalities such as Michelle Bernstein, Daniel Boulud, Pichet Ong, Claudia Roden, and Martha Stewart. 

The book is arranged by type--Breakfast, Soups, Starters, Mains, Sides and Desserts. In addition there is a section on buying, storing, preparing and cooking corn. There are color photos throughout the book, (although not for every recipe) and the bright primary colors used, make this compact book bright and appealing. Each recipe is introduced by the chef with a personal anecdote. In fact, this cookbook is a personal labor of love for the author who started it in 2007 as a leadership program project and who is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon, a national grieving center for children and families, to give back some of the support she received when she lost her father unexpectedly several years ago.

I tagged quite a few recipes to try, including Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quiche with Brown Rice Crust, Chilaquiles Divorciados, Fresh Corn Gazpacho, Corn "Ceviche" in Corn Water, Serenade Vegetable Tacos, Liquid "Gold" Corn Ravioli, Warm Jersey Corn Salads, Corn Poached Halibut with Tomato and Charred Jalapeno Chutney, Warm Polenta Stew, Caramelized Corn with Shallots, Yankee Corn Bread, Chocolate Pudding with Caramel Peanut Popcorn and Fresh Corn Sorbet, Fresh Corn Ice Cream, and Popcorn Pudding with Salted Caramel Corn and Butterscotch Sauce.

Ultimately, I ended up "road testing" this book with the Hugh Acheson recipe for Early Corn Soup. I may have to declare this my "Spring/Summer of Corn Soup" since I have made one a month for the past three months. I love nothing better than a big bowl of corn soup as regardless of the weather, its delicate sweetness keeps it light enough to enjoy all year round. Plus, when the corn lady parks her truck near my house, it is hard to resist buying bags of sweet local corn when I drive by. I was intrigued by the vanilla in this soup and since my last two corn soups have been on the savory and lightly-spicy side, this sweeter version seemed like a contrast I made a couple of minor changes to make it vegan, noted below, and although the recipe calls for the soup to be pureed and passed through a sieve, I pureed about half of mine and went "sieve-less." ;-)

Hugh Acheson says, "When I was young and spending summers at our cottage an hour north of Toronto, Canada, corn season was a revered stretch of late summer. "Peaches and cream" was what we called the sweet, rich, bicolored corn from the local farms. It required about thirty seconds of cooking and was then slathered with fresh butter and a sprinkling of salt. That was it, for lunch and dinner, most everyday. Wonderful. This recipe encapsulates the same freshness but has exotic overtones from the coconut milk and vanilla. It's a simple soup that works well with lobster, crab, or shrimp, if you want to make it more of a meal."

Early Corn Soup
By Hugh Acheson from I Love Corn by Lisa Skye
(Serves 6)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and diced finely (about 1/2 cup)
1 rib celery, minced finely (about 1/4 cup)
3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 medium-sized ears)
1 medium-size bouquet garni of fresh thyme and fresh or dried bay leaf (see note)
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scrape
1 cup peeled and cubed russet potato (1-inch cubes)
4 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used non-dairy creamer)
1 cup coconut milk
salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the leek and celery until soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the corn, bouquet garni, vanilla bean pod and seeds, and potato. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the water and cover. Continue cooking over medium heat, not boiling. Cook for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the potatoes are soft.

Add the cream and coconut milk and return to medium heat. Continue cooking covered for about 5 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and the vanilla bean pod, and carefully puree the hot soup in the blender, working in batches. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

(Author's Note: To make your own bouquet garni, simply tie together 3 long sprigs of thyme and 1 bay leaf with string or butcher's twine.)

Notes/Results: Very sweet, but in a good way, this soup really brings out the flavor of the young corn. You don't taste the vanilla, it just enhances the sweet taste of the corn, leeks, and coconut milk. I am glad I didn't puree the entire batch, as having the chunks of potato and niblets of corn in the creamy base make it very satisfying. Although I prefer it warm, this soup also works chilled. I will make this again.

I Love Corn is a fun and useful cookbook that celebrates how delicious and diverse corn can be and is an excellent partner for summer vegetable stands and farmers markets. It would be a great hostess gift, shower present or a take-along to a beach house or cabin. For me, it's good incentive to keeping stopping whenever I see the corn lady.

Note: I received a copy of I Love Corn from the publisher (Andrews McMeel), however I received no monetary compensation to review it. As always, my thoughts, feedback and experiences cooking from it are entirely my own.

I'm am sending this soup over to Cookbook Sundays hosted by my friend Sue at Couscous and Consciousness.

Now let's see who is in the Souper Sundays kitchen.

Janet of The Taste Space is joining me in my summer soup love with this Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Caramelized Onions (aka Dal Bhat Meets Mujaddara). She says, "This comforting dish comes from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Cook This Now. Savoury spices like cinnamon, cumin, allspice and ginger are combined with creamy red lentils and brown rice (aka dal bhat). Since the spices are aromatized at the beginning of the soup, they don’t pop with as much oomph as dal  bhat, instead they are more mellow. This is a thick soup, with both lentils and rice simmered together, creating an utterly creamy consistency."

Janet also has this Thai Kelp Noodle Salad with Mango and Lima Beans to share and says, "Thai-inspired, the star of this dish is the creamy coconut-based dressing infused with lemongrass, Keffir lime leaves, ginger and shallots, balanced with a touch of tamarind, fresh lime juice, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. All of the flavours are enhanced through the reduction of the coconut milk. It is probably one of the more elaborate and lengthy dressings to make, but easy none-the-less, and can be made in advance."

Sue of Couscous and Consciousness made a colorful Chargrilled Cauliflower, Tomato & Fennel Salad and says, " is a real favourite - and as (despite the price), I seem to be absolutely mad for cauliflower right now, I thought it was high time I dragged this one out, dusted it off and shared it with you.  This is great eaten slightly warm or at room temperature - that said, it's not half bad the next day as well, should you be lucky enough to have any leftovers. This makes a great starter or side, but I am more than happy to just tuck into a huge bowl of this as a meal."

Debbie of Easy Natural Food has two salads to share this week. First up this hearty Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing. She says, "A tasty quinoa salad is always a good thing to be able to whip up for any occasion – picnic, BBQ, potluck or simply dinner at home. I made this salad to take to a birthday party recently, and much to my relief everyone really enjoyed it. The sweet cranberries, tangy tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and red bell pepper, and the bite from the scallions made for a great combo in this salad!"

Debbie's second salad is a healthy Crunchy Munchy Vegetable Salad. Debbie says, "It has been hot here lately….hot, no breeze, no air conditioning. So all that I’ve been feeling like is a big bowl of crunchy munchy salad! Something cool, crisp and refreshing is what I’m after, and this salad fits the bill perfectly."

Kim from Stirring the Pot has a sandwich to share this week and says, "This Black Bean Chorizo Sub has been calling my name ever since I spied it in my copy of Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday.  There is no denying the deliciousness of chorizo and when mixed with black beans, avocado, tangy feta and placed between two layers of crusty bread....well, you really should find out for yourself. My husband and I really enjoyed these subs.  You get a little crunch and crispness from the bread, but the filling is nice and soft and really flavorful, especially when you load up on the hot sauce.

Some wonderful dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Have a happy, healthy week! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Corn and Cheese Chowder Made Dairy Free (Not That You'd Know It) for Food 'N Flix: Sideways & Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I think for most people, the film Sideways doesn't necessarily conjure up visions of a bowl of Corn and Cheese Chowder. Corn chowder isn't a central character in this wine-filled comedy, but it does have a small walk-on part. On a double date between wine-loving sad sack Miles and intelligent waitress and horticultural student Maya, along with randy actor and soon to be married Jack paired with sassy winery employee Stephanie, the waitress mentions that corn chowder is the soup of the day. I heard that and thought, "I want some corn chowder..." and there was my inspiration. ;-) The fact that the "corn lady" has been parked at the Park-and-Ride near my house the last few Fridays selling sweet local corn just sealed the deal. Corn chowder would be my Sideways-inspired dish for Food 'N Flix.

Sideways is our Food 'N Flix movie selection for May, hosted by Tina of Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Manor. There is definitely more wine than food in this movie as it takes place on a vino-fueled mid-life crisis road trip to wine country and features a terrific cast; Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen, Thomas Hayden Church and Sandra Oh. Miles (Giamatti) is a divorced and depressed English teacher trying to get a book published, and the trip is his wedding gift to his best friend and college buddy Jack (Hayden-Church), an actor, who wants to sow some more wild oats before settling down. Miles is attracted to Maya's (Madsen) intelligence and knowledge of wine, while Jack begins to romance Stephanie (Oh), not mentioning the fact that he is about to be married. It's a smart comedy and although I frequently find myself wanting to smack both Miles and Jack for many varied reasons, it is an entertaining film. 

My Sideways-inspired Corn and Cheese Chowder comes from Love Soup by Anna Thomas, my favorite soup cookbook for both recipes and inspiration. There is wine in it--in this case a crisp Pinot Grigio (it's what was open). The chowder is vegetarian as written but I decided to make it dairy free and vegan by substituting out the milk, butter and cream with non-dairy alternatives. (My changes are in red below.) The chowder turned out creamy and lightly cheesy but not heavy, so the dairy wasn't missed   

Thomas says, "In my very first cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure, I had a recipe for a corn and cheese chowder. I looked it up recently and saw that it called for...1 1/4 cups of heavy cream! Whoa! Then I laughed and thought, Those were the days. I was a young university student and thin as a rail. But corn and cheese chowder was one of my favorites, so I made it again and let it evolve with my current style of cooking: less cream, more corn, no flour, plenty of fresh herbs. It's a delicious corn chowder for modern times. (If you're still in school, go ahead and pour in another cup of cream - I don't mind.)"

Corn and Cheese Chowder
Adapted from Love Soup by Anna Thomas
(Serves 5-6)

1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (450 g)
1 bay leaf
5 - 6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped, or 2 tsps dried, crumbled sage
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more if needed

(I added 1/2 cup chopped baby carrots) 
1 large yellow onion (350 g)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance vegan spread)
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk (I used light coconut milk)
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth 
1/3 cup (80 l) heavy cream or half-and-half (I used a dairy-free creamer)
4 cups (600 g) corn kernels, scraped from 6 - 7 ears corn
2 - 3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced (50 g)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup (30 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
hot paprika
freshly ground black pepper
4 - 5 Tbsp (75 ml) dry white wine, optional
4 oz. (120 g) sharp cheddar cheese (I used Daiya vegan cheddar cheese)

Scrub the potatoes, cut them in 1/2-inch dice, and put them in a large soup pot with 3 cups (750 ml) water, the bay leaf, the sage, and a teaspoon of sea salt. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the onion coarsely and saute it in the oil and butter with a pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring often, until it is translucent and browning in spots, about 15 minutes. Add the onion to the soup, along with the milk, broth, cream, corn and sliced green onions. Bring the soup back to a simmer and let it bubble for another 6 to 7 minutes.

Toast the cumin seeds for a few minutes in a dry skillet, and then grind them in a mortar or a spice grinder. Add the cumin, parsley, a pinch of hot paprika, and some black pepper to the soup. Taste the soup, and add more salt if needed. Stir in the white wine if you wish.

Keeping the soup at just below the simmer point, slowly stir in the grated cheese, allowing it to melt smoothly into the soup. From this point onward, you cannot let the soup simmer or boili, as that would curdle the cheese. If you need to reheat it, do it carefully, watching and stirring.

Notes/Results: A velvety and delicious bowl of soup. I like how the herbs and spices--fresh sage and parsley, bay, paprika, ground cumin seeds and hot paprika, work together. Nothing stands out but they all harmonize to bring great flavor. I was a little worried about how well the shreds of non-dairy cheese would melt but it melted well. It's not perhaps as "gooey" cheesy as real cheese, but the flavor is there and it adds to the texture. It's a filling and satisfying soup but not too heavy. Excellent, and I will make it again.

The deadline for this month's Food 'N Flix is May 30th, and Tina will be rounding up the entries at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor shortly after. If you missed this round and love food and movies, June's selection is a favorite of mine, Mistress of Spices, hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  

I am also linking it to Sunday Night Soup Night!, hosted by Debbie at Easy Natural Food and Sue's Cookbook Sundays at Couscous and Consciousness.

Now, let's check out who is in the Souper Sundays kitchen.

Janet at The Taste Space has this hearty Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha) to share and says, "...I tried the version from Olive Trees and Honey which had simpler ingredients: split peas, onion, garlic, and oil. It also called for a chile and I obliged by using one green chile.  With the bountiful onions and garlic, this was flavourful, and not spicy at all with only one green chile. Mild, but not distracting. Creamy yet not oily. This was how it was meant to be.  To make it even more luscious, puree the dish or partially mash."

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina made Tarragon Stracciatella (Egg Soup) and says, "This is the time of the year when I realize that winter is over, and so I rush to prepare some recipes that I forget to prepare! Despite the spring there are some gray and windy days, and I take this opportunity to cook for the last time some recipes perhaps more suited to a cold season, as this hearty egg soup. I added some tarragon to this soup and also to the croutons. Its slightly spicy aroma was perfect with the taste of eggs and beef broth."

Debbie of Easy Natural Foods has a flavorful Tomato Vegetable Soup to share and says, "This is a simple but tasty vegetable soup that I made to use up a variety of different vegetables in my fridge. Sometimes I get a little carried away at the farmer’s market and buy more produce than I end up using in a week, but fortunately there is always soup to take care of any extras."

Heather of girlichef made this colorful Avocado-Mango Salad with Gorgonzola, Bacon & Toasted Pepitas and says, "I definitely consider this a meal-salad.  The texture and flavor layers are insane.  Butter lettuce is crisp, yet soft and velvety.  Sweet juicy mango.  Creamy avocado.  Smoky, salty bacon.  Earthy toasted pepitas.  Pungent cheese.  All drizzled in a dressing that is all kinds of nutty, tangy, sweet, and hot all in the same mouthful.

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes shares a salad this week and says, "I call this my Everyday Salmon Salad. Why?  Because it’s so easy you could make it everyday and it’s so good you could eat it everyday! So, for this salad, while the salmon was broiling I grabbed some baby greens from the fridge, found some carrots and radishes, which I gave a quick whirl with the shredding disk on my food processor and put it in a bowl.  When the salmon was done, I flaked it into the bowl, tossed with a homemade vinaigrette, a little more salt and pepper, some fresh bread and that was dinner.  Dinner in less than 15 minutes.

Carol of There's Always Time to Cook made some tangy Quick Pickled Cabbage Slaw to go with her Korean-Style Steak Tacos and says, "It was a gorgeous day, perfect time to grill. The June magazines have tons of grilling recipes so I started to flip through the piles of magazines I have just waiting to be read and found plenty of recipes I put on the list to try. Tonight grilled steak taco's won out. They always do."

Some wonderful dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy Memorial Day Weekend and week!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cafe Flora's Roasted Garlic Dijon Lentil Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

You have to love the lentil. They are cheap, low-fat, and full of fiber, protein, iron and potassium. All that makes for a nutritious and satisfying soup. This Roasted Garlic Dijon Lentil Soup uses a paste of roasted garlic and Dijon mustard to brighten up the flavor and firm French green lentils for texture.

The recipe comes from the Cafe Flora Cookbook: More Than 250 Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from the Renowned Seattle Restaurants by Catherine Geier with Carol Brown. Having eaten at Cafe Flora multiple times when I lived in Seattle, I was happy to find the cookbook at a used bookstore for a great price. I have many recipes tagged to make, but unearthing a jar of French green lentils in my pantry moved this soup to the top of the list.

Cafe Flora says, "Here we add a paste of roasted garlic and Dijon mustard to the pot which adds a sharp, clean tang to an otherwise earthy soup. We use French green (Le Puy) lentils for this recipe since they hold their shape and don't get mushy when cooked."

Roasted Garlic Dijon Lentil Soup
Adapted from the Cafe Flora Cookbook
(Makes 7 cups)

12 cloves garlic, unpeeled (I used about 20 cloves)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard (I used 1.5 Tbsp)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 potato, peeled and diced (I used 2 potatoes)
1 tsp dried thyme (I used a bit more-about 1.5 tsps)
5 cups vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups, mixed veggie broth and water)
1/2 cup French green (Le Puy) lentils, rinsed
freshly ground pepper
(fresh lemon thyme to garnish)

Roast the Garlic: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the garlic cloves with the olive oil and put in a small baking dish. Cover with foil, and roast until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the oil from the roasted garlic into a heavy-bottomed soup pot.

Make the Roasted Garlic and Dijon Paste: When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp into a small bowl. Add the Dijon mustard, and mix well. Set aside.

Sauté the onions and other vegetables: Heat the roasted garlic oil over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add the carrots, potato, and thyme, and sauté for 3 minutes more.

Simmer the Soup: Add the vegetable stock and lentils, and bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Stir in the Roasted Garlic Paste: Simmer soup for 10 minutes. Add a pinch or two of ground pepper and salt to taste, and serve.

Note: This soup will thicken as it sits, so you may need to add water or vegetable stock to get the consistency you want.

Notes/Results: A very flavorful and delicious lentil soup. I usually like to add a splash of vinegar to my lentils to bring out the flavors, and in the is recipe the Dijon does just that. And you can't argue with roasted garlic--nutty and mellow. I did add extra garlic--I had two partial heads and just threw them all in to roast. It was about 20 cloves instead of 12, but roasting the garlic makes it so sweet, it doesn't overpower. I also bumped up the mustard and thyme a bit. I like a little flavor punch. ;-) My small changes are in red on the recipe. It does get thick and stew-like after sitting. I like it that way, but if you like a thinner soup, keep plenty of veggie broth handy. The only thing I would do differently next time is to add some spinach or other leafy greens. I made up for it by serving it with a simple spinach salad, something the cookbook recommended. A keeper recipe that I will make again.

I am also linking this tasty recipe to Sue's Cookbook Sundays at Couscous and Consciousness.

Now let's take a look in the Souper Sundays kitchen because we have some great soup and salad recipes waiting.

First up, fellow Hawaii blogger Claudia from Honey From Rock is here with White Bean and Tuscan Kale Soup with Chestnuts. She says, "When I've just stashed batches of newly minted chicken stock, we're ready and running in the soup department. They're burning holes in my pockets, so to speak. So, I riffle through a cookbook or two to see what will appeal. This one had cannellini beans, kale, pancetta and chestnuts, a winter comfort meal if I ever heard one. Especially since there was a package of roasted peeled chestnuts lurking from Thanksgiving. ... It was so yummy, we almost polished off the whole thing at one sitting. And nicely warming on a cool evening."

Lovely Graziana from Erbe in Cucina made homemade gnocchi with Parmesan and chives and put it too good use by adding it to soup. She says, "I served the gnocchi with a pumpkin and yams soup, aromatized with my homemade Asian Aromatic Mixture." And thus a very creative, hearty and warming Pumpkin, Yam Soup with Aromatic Homemade Gnocchi was born.

Speaking of hearty and warming, Janet from The Taste Space has that too in her Pumpkin Chili. She says, "While I have made other chilis before, this is definitely my favourite so far. A savoury saucy chili, filled with beans and vegetables. Flavourful, not spicy despite using jalapeno peppers. The pumpkin puree adds a touch of sweetness but doesn’t leave you with a pumpkin flavour. The TVP plumps up to look just like ground meat, it is almost confusing. What isn’t confusing is how great it tastes: delicious."

Elizabeth of The Law Student's Cookbook has a Broccoli-Cheddar Soup to share and says, "So while I’m sitting here shivering with my heater on and covered in blankets, I get to tell you all about my soup recipe that warmed me up from the inside out. I think that’s the best part of soup; it makes you soooo warm. This recipe was yanked out Food Network Magazine‘s October 2011 magazine on page 108. The soup is actually featured on the cover of the magazine also. It’s easy to make, it’s hearty, it warmed up my belly, and it tasted incredibly delicious."

Heather of girlichef has a Buttercup Squash Soup w/ Cilantro, Toasted Almonds, & Fried Ginger Threads. She says, "The flavors sounded so enticing that once I started fantacising about how they would taste on my tongue, I knew I had to make it work. Really the solution was simple. Thin in out to adapt it to my tastes. I cut down on the amount of squash that the original recipe intended (3 lb). I also upped....waaaaay upped....the amount of "toppings". And it worked. I achieved a massively flavorful, squashy broth with hints of cinnamon and star anise that was perfectly complimented by the toasty, nutty flavor of the almonds, the bright cilantro, and the creeping heat of the fried ginger."

Corina from Searching for Spice is back with a comforting Leek and Bacon Soup and says, "...I’m sure you won’t be surprised that the main ingredient in this soup was leek, and if you like leeks, you will like it, although it’s so simple it hardly needs a recipe. And if you like bacon, and a little salty fatty kick to your healthy vegetable packed soup, then the fried crispy bacon pieces really finish off the soup well. I know bacon’s not really healthy, but you could tell yourself it’s just a garnish, and to add a bit of flavour, and you will be eating so many leeks in this that you don’t need to worry about it at all. In fact, I would even say you need the bacon to create a balanced meal!"

Akheela of Torview Toronto has a simple and healthy Cucumber Salad of tomato, onion, green chile, and cucumber of course, dressed with a simple lemony dressing. She says that you just "Mix the sugar, salt, pepper, green chillie, lemon juice together and pour it over the cucumber and tomatoes. Leave it for about 15 minutes and serve as a side dish."

Say hello to Jaleela from cookbookjaleela, joining us from Dubai and making her first appearance at Souper Sundays week. She says, "For biriyani, I am preparing variety of salad and raita like veg , cucumber mint, beetroot peanut,coconut onion etc…….. Whenever I am making salad for biriyani I always prepare Sweet Cucumber Salad for me and my son. ... Quick salad for kids, very simple and easy. I like this salad very much since my childhood, now even its my son's favorite." Welcome Jaleela!

Joanne from Eats Well With Others made this colorful Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils, Brussels Sprouts, and Goat Cheese. She says, "Roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts are tossed with some smoked paprika and cumin and then roasted until they are sweet, smoky and just a bit spicy. Mix em all up with earthy lentils, bitter arugula, and a really seductive goat cheese. And there you have a miracle in a very large and filling bowl."

Some wonderful tasty dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!