Sep 14 2014

My First Lentil Soup

It continues to be 100+° here in Sacramento and I’m still obsessed with making soup. Maybe because it’s comforting and it makes the house smell amazing, maybe because I continue to believe it’s the perfect lunch time solution for me. Cooking up a storm with the ceiling fan going, the AC on full blast in shorts and a tank top is a tad strange – but I’m going with it.

I decided that I would tackle making lentil soup. I’ve pinned quite a few lentil recipes as non-meat alternatives, but I’ve never really explored the nutritional value and where they came from. I hopped online and found a Mediterranean Snacks site that had some pretty cool info. Did you know that humans have been eating lentils since prehistoric times? Lentils were a staple for ancient Near-Eastern and European cultures, and were most likely the very first cultivated crop. Archaeologists have discovered lentils from the Paleolithic period (10,000 BC) in the Franchthi Cave in southern Greece and at the ancient settlement of Mureybet on the banks of the Euphrates. Lentils gradually spread out of the Middle East and became popular throughout all of Europe. I did not know that. I just thought they always came layered in designer glass jars for display in kitchens all over HGTV. ;)

Foodiddy - Lentil Soup

After searching quite a few sites, I found a recipe that peaked my interest from Dinner Was Delicious on tumblr. I decided to give it a try. The ingredient list seemed simple enough and I liked a few of the twists that I didn’t see in other traditional lentil soup recipes. I did tweak the measurements a bit and those will be reflected in my version of the recipe.

Foodiddy---Lentil-Soup-Ingreditents

The Ingredients – Serves 6-8

  • 8 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 4 Carrots
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Lentils
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 2 Quarts (64 fluid ounces) Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Water – if needed for desired consistency
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 6 Whole Sprigs Thyme
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

foodiddy-garlic

This was a new method of roasting garlic for me. I set my dry dutch oven over medium heat on the stove and dropped in the garlic cloves with their peels still on. I let them toast for a few minutes (3-4) on each side, until the skins were browned and the cloves were fragrant.

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I then roughly chopped the onion, carrots, and celery.

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I added the olive oil to the dutch oven and sautéed the mixture until tender. I then peeled and smashed up the garlic with the side of my knife and added it back to the pot, along with the lentils and cumin. I made sure that the lentils were nicely coated in the olive oil before adding the broth.

lentil-soup-steps

I then emptied both boxes of veggie broth into the pot and added the bay leaf and whole sprigs of thyme. I let the soup simmer until the lentils were tender, about 45-50 minutes. At one point I did add 1 cup of water as I felt the liquid had absorbed a little too much – this kept the pot on the stove for an additional 5-10 minutes. I hunted for the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs and fished those out of the pot before seasoning with salt and pepper. I served the soup piping hot with fresh thyme as a topper.

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I also cut a few pieces from a sourdough baguette and toasted up some garlic croutons that were a great addition to the soup. I’m a sucker for carbs, so in my world, toasted garlic bread pretty much goes with anything.

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This was a very hearty soup – the addition of the cumin really reminded me of a vegetarian chili I had tasted at a chili cook-off in college – which I loved. I liked that it didn’t have tomatoes like some of the other lentil soup recipes I found online and I also liked that as the days went on, the flavors really developed. The roasted garlic was one of my favorite ingredients in the soup – glad I doubled the amount suggested.

Lentil Soup
Lentils are a versatile, budget-friendly and healthy addition to many recipes. This delicious, hearty lentil soup is really easy to make and definitely delivers on taste. Serves 6-8.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 Cloves Garlic
  2. 1 Yellow Onion
  3. 4 Carrots
  4. 4 Stalks Celery
  5. 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  6. 2 Cups Lentils
  7. 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  8. 2 Quarts (64 fluid ounces) Vegetable Broth
  9. 1 Cup Water - if needed for desired consistency
  10. 1 Bay Leaf
  11. 6 Whole Sprigs Thyme
  12. Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot/dutch oven over medium heat and drop in the garlic cloves with their peels still on. Let them toast for a few minutes on each side, until the skins are browned and fragrant, and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the onion, carrots and celery. Add the olive oil to the pot/dutch oven and sauté until tender.
  3. Peel and smash up garlic and then add it back to the pot, along with the lentils and cumin. Cook for a minute or two, until the lentils are nicely coated in olive oil. Empty the vegetable broth into the pot and add the bay leaf and whole sprigs of thyme.
  4. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45-50 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and cooked down thyme sprigs and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Serve hot with fresh thyme sprinkled on top.
Adapted from Dinner Was Delicious
Adapted from Dinner Was Delicious
Foodiddy http://foodiddy.com/
I’m getting over my “dry beans are too much work” mentality. Lentils are a cheap and healthy source of protein, dietary fiber, iron and potassium and something I should eat more of. Lentils come in a variety of colors – brown (the color I used) green, red and all shades in between. I look forward to exploring more varieties and lentil recipes in the near future.

Are you a lentil fan? Have any good lentil recipes to share?
foo

 

Permanent link to this article: http://foodiddy.com/?p=10112

Sep 07 2014

Roasted Sweet Corn & Tomato Soup

I am rushing into fall with a little soup action. I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Roasted Sweet Corn and Tomato Soup and immediately knew it would be perfect served either hot or cold… which is a good thing since it’s still nearly 100º here in Sacramento. It may be September, but it continues to be rather toasty outside.

roasted-corn-tomato-soup

I grabbed my iPad and started entering ingredients into my Safeway delivery shopping cart. Not being able to just jump in the car to walk through a grocery store is a bizarre feeling. I have not been in a brick and mortar grocery store for over 8-weeks. The online delivery service has been very convenient. Sure, I could send Dan to the store with a detailed list (did that once) – but I prefer to not torture him as he’s had to do pretty much every household chore by himself. He’s not a fan of grocery shopping and clicking “add to cart” was a better solution for us. Besides, we’ve saved a ton of money – you get what you need, avoiding impulse purchases. I’ve also managed to score free delivery codes every single time. They want us to keep shopping this way and I just might – minus a few Trader Joe’s and other specialty store runs here and there.

O.k., enough about groceries, let’s get back to the soup recipe…

Roasted-Tomato-Corn-Soup-Ingredients

I did make some changes to the original recipe I found on Pinterest – so I will post my version below.  I doubled the recipe, but will include the single recipe version here. Serving size – 6 cups.

Ingredients

  • 4 Fresh Ears of Corn
  • 10 oz. Cherry and Sungold Tomatoes
  • 4-6 Cloves Garlic – roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil – divided
  • 1 Medium Onion – white or yellow – diced
  • 8 oz. Roasted Red Bell Peppers – rough chopped
  • 32 oz. Chicken Broth
  • 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 – 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder – adjust for desired heat
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to Taste
  • Fresh Basil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º F.

 corn

I used my handy dandy Pampered Chef corn kernel cutter tool to remove the raw kernels from the cob. Say that 5 x’s fast.

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Since I doubled the recipe, I purchased two 10 oz. clamshells of tomatoes – since there aren’t many farmer’s market trips for me these days. Just make sure you get the smaller cherry or grape shaped tomatoes. You could use full size, but roasting works really well with the smaller ones.

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I placed the corn, tomatoes, and garlic on foil-lined baking sheets and then drizzled them with olive oil. I also lightly sprinkled the tomatoes and corn with salt and freshly ground pepper. I gently tossed and then arranged the mixture into a flat layer. Since I doubled the recipe, I ended up with two baking sheets in the oven.

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I baked/roasted the corn and tomatoes for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes started to crinkle and burst. Don’t be alarmed if the corn turns a little golden brown as well. The time could vary depending on your oven.

While the tomatoes and corn were roasting, I heated up my Dutch oven to medium high heat on the stove. I added the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and diced onion to the pot, sautéing until tender. After that I added the chopped roasted red bell peppers, chicken broth, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, some kosher salt and a few twists from the pepper grinder.

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I used Nob Hill Trading Co. roasted bell peppers with balsamic vinegar. They are the house brand for Raley’s/BelAir. I happened to have them on hand and the garlic lover in me decided to just go for it… I’m glad I did. You could just use regular roasted bell peppers, but since the soup turned out so great, I will probably hunt this brand down again for the next batch.

When the corn and tomatoes are done roasting, add them to the pot. Be sure to reserve some if you like a chunkier consistency to your soup. I reserved about a 1/2 cup of the corn, but added all of the tomatoes into the pot.

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immersion blender

Bring the soup to a low simmer and cover. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Use an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender and puree until almost smooth. You can go all the way smooth, but I prefer “almost” smooth in all soups – hot or cold. It’s a texture thing for me.

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Taste and add additional salt, pepper or chipotle chili powder if you need some added heat. Divide into bowls, add a big spoonful of the reserved corn and fresh basil to each bowl. Serve hot or bring to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill.

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The flavors really developed by the next day. If serving cold, I’d definitely let chill overnight. I’m already thinking of ways to make this in the late fall and early winter. I’ll probably buy Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn and fire roasted canned tomatoes – skipping the whole roasting process. Fresh tomatoes and corn are amazing, but there is no way I won’t want this soup throughout the remainder of the year and beyond. Yes, it was that good. Teamed with a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich… don’t mind if I do.  

Roasted Sweet Corn and Tomato Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 4 Ears of Fresh Corn
  2. 10 oz. of Red Cherry and Sungold Tomatoes
  3. 4-6 Cloves Garlic - roughly chopped
  4. 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil - divided
  5. 1 Medium Onion - white or yellow - diced
  6. 8 oz. Roasted Red Bell Peppers - rough chopped
  7. 32 oz. Chicken Broth
  8. 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  9. 1/2 - 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
  10. Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to Taste
  11. Fresh Basil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  2. Place corn, tomatoes, and garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Gently toss with your hands and then arrange in a single, flat layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes start to crinkle and burst.
  3. While the tomatoes and corn are roasting, heat a Dutch oven/stock pot to medium high heat on the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and diced onion. Sauté until tender. Add the chopped roasted red bell peppers, chicken broth, smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder, some kosher salt and a few twists from the pepper grinder.
  4. When the corn and tomatoes are done roasting, add them to the pot. Be sure to reserve some if you like a chunkier consistency to your soup.
  5. Bring soup to a low simmer and cover. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Use an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender and purée to desired consistency.
  6. Taste and add additional salt, pepper or chipotle chili powder if you want some added heat. Divide into bowls, add a big spoonful of the reserved corn and fresh basil to each bowl. Serve hot or bring to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill.
Notes
  1. Sometimes you can find a mixed medley clamshell that contains both red and yellow tomato varieties.
  2. You could substitute vegetable broth for chicken to make it vegetarian friendly.
  3. Yields 6 cups
Adapted from Our Best Bites, inspired by Sussman Brothers
Adapted from Our Best Bites, inspired by Sussman Brothers
Foodiddy http://foodiddy.com/
I’m already searching for more soup recipes to make. It’s so easy to pop a container in the microwave for lunches. Do you have a favorite “go to” soup?

 foo

 

Permanent link to this article: http://foodiddy.com/?p=10071

Sep 03 2014

Maggiano’s Pasta Cutting and Luncheon

I received an invite to Maggiano’s Little Italy, a restaurant concept featuring scratch-made food with Italian hospitality – opening in the new Arden Fair Mall location at 1689 Arden Way, Suite 1148, Sacramento, CA 95815.

Maggiano’s is owned by Dallas-based Brinker International with more than 1,600 restaurants in 30 countries and two territories. Chili’s Bar & Grill is a sister brand.

As part of the grand opening, Maggiano’s hosted a Pasta Cutting & Media Luncheon that I was able to attend with other Sacramento bloggers and industry professionals.

Maggianos-ArdenFairMall

The Sacramento Arden Fair Mall location marks the brands 48th location. There are 5 others in California. One of the exciting things rolling out at the Sacramento location that caught my eye, is the brand’s new “Lighter Take” menu. Lighter take features new preparations of classic dishes including Chicken Piccata, Chicken Parmesan and Fettuccine Alfredo, delivering the same authentic flavors with at least one-third fewer calories.

We were escorted by Jairo, our media contact, to a special table off to the side near the bar area.

maggianos_table

I was a little stressed about the bar height seating due to my leg brace, but it worked out fine. I sat with a great group of professional women – some fellow bloggers, culinary school graduates, food writers and chamber representatives. We met with Mike Sellmeyer, the GM and Executive Chef, Daniel Grice. The staff was very welcoming and attentive. It was fun getting to learn where they came from and how excited they were to be living and working in Sacramento.

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Guests have the option to select from either a regular or shared family style menu, most of which are generous portions.

Crispy_Zucchini

For our first course, Chef Grice brought out the Crispy Zucchini Fritte (Strips of zucchini hand battered with Japanese bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown – served with a zesty lemon aioli.) – I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this appetizer, I’d love to explore creating an “at home” version as well.

menu

Next up was their popular Chopped Salad (Chopped iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, avocado and crispy prosciutto. Served with their signature house dressing.) – both were great, but the Crispy Zucchini topped my list of favorites that day.

rigatoni

Our main course sampling came out next. They served up their Famous Rigatoni ‘D’ ® (Rigatoni pasta, herb-roasted chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions, tossed in a Marsala cream sauce.) followed by my favorite dish of the day…

chicken-piccata-menu

The Lighter Take – Chicken Piccata (Capers, spinach and lemon butter with hand-cut fettuccine.)

piccata

Don’t let the blurry, not so awesome photo take away from this amazing menu item. The dish was bursting with lemon flavor. They zested lemons into the breading mixture which made the citrus flavor really pop. It was hard to believe that this was a lighter version of their regular Chicken Piccata, nothing about it tasted “light” –  everyone at the table really enjoyed it.

I’m not sure how I managed room for dessert, but Mike kept playing up the “bomb” cheesecake, I had to try it.

maggiannos_cheesecake

New York style Ricotta Cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream – sign me up! The cheese was creamy perfection, I really couldn’t stop after just one bite, but I knew I also had to sample the Tiramisu. The chef and GM really interacted with us,  it was interesting learning about how they source some of their ingredients.

tiramisuLadyfinger cookies soaked in espresso and coffee liqueur layered with Mascarpone, dusted with cocoa powder and served with chocolate shavings – Tiramisu, you complete me. This was the perfect ending to a very indulgent meal.

I’m still being chauffeured around, living off Safeway delivery for groceries and in a full leg brace and broken toe shoe… so this special lunch was a real treat indeed. Everyone was very accommodating of my current condition, which was cool.

Another surprise was being sent home with a media kit that included a “Compliments of Your Chef” dinner for Dan.

takehome

In the spirit of generosity and family that originated in Little Italy neighborhoods more than 100 years ago, guests that order a Classic Pasta get another Classic Pasta to take home, compliments of the chef. Since launching the “On the House Classic Pastas ” guest favorite in 2009, Maggiano’s has given away more than 11 million Classic Pastas.

Thank you Jairo, Ashley, Mike and Daniel for the opportunity to experience the restaurant before the crowds roll in. I will definitely venture back to try other menu items with friends.

Now it’s back to reality, easy frozen microwaveable meals and soups. Is it Fall yet? At least 4 more weeks in the brace and shoe… I can do 4 more weeks right?

foo

 

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