Soups and stews somehow taste much better in cold weather! Is that because I’m used to having them in the winter or something intrinsic to the season and the cold? Who knows, but this winter I’ve been having plenty of delicious soups! This stew is fortifying and oh so very yummy. Make it with family and friends or make it in big batches to freeze, because one batch will be gone before you know it! Adapted to our tastes from the China Study Cookbook, which is full of a lot of really delicious stuff, and it’s even good for you ; )
It also goes very very well with their Sensational Herb Bread, which you can find free in the Amazon preview, page 51. Mmm. It really is sensational. It’s a very dense bread, but also soft and extremely fragrant with a fantastic bite for dipping in soup and stew.
a dash of oil
a small onion, more or less to taste
a couple carrots, more or less to taste
a couple celery stalks, more or less to taste
a few garlic cloves, more or less to taste
Spices (to taste all, make up about 2 Tbs):
curry spices (like these perhaps?) or curry powder,
red peppers fresh or powdered,
a dash of lemon or lime juice
(optional, a couple spoons of nutritional yeast for a bit of nutrition and a slightly hearty taste)
a couple pints or so of vegetable broth (or water’s OK, if you let it cook longer)
chives (bunch), or green onions if you like
a cup or so lentils, your choice
1. Chop onions, carrots, celery. Chop garlic. You can see from the picture how I like them. Especially don’t dice the garlic too small, because that tends to burn easily.
2. Saute in a big pot with a little oil (olive, canola, safflower etc). Stir constantly at first, then just every so often, but keep a constant eye so it doesn’t burn. Keep at med/low heat till onions are nearly clear. Hooray for traditional soup bases–I’ve heard that carrot-onion-celery was French and the Spanish equivalent is carrot-onion-pepper. All I know is that both smell so very good when on the stove. It never fails to bring the whole house to see what’s cooking.
3. Add spices, saute another couple minutes–pick your favorite curry mix, or just use a large spoonful of garam masala and curry powder. Break up any chunks of spice powder in the oil of the saute with your spoon. Add some red pepper and black pepper. This is where it’s a little different from, say, French traditional stews. And I think the slightly spicy slant works really well. Thanks China Study Cookbook!
4. Add broth, chives (I get veggie broth in those boxes, but you can make it by using water, adding more onion/carrot/celery, and adding a much longer simmering time). Add a dash of salt unless the broth is salted already. Bring to a boil.
5. Add lentils of whatever kind you like best. But be cautious if you’ve never made the kind you pick before. Some of the larger varieties (or ones that are dryer or may have sat on the shelf a long time) need to be soaked or cooked for hours instead of minutes. Try one with small lentils. Worse case scenario you can leave it to simmer all evening and have a traditional european style late dinner time. Do leave the lid on and add a bit of broth if it gets dry while simmering.
6. Bring to a boil again, then lower the temperature to med/low again, put on the pot lid, and:
Let simmer gently for 45 minutes, or until there isn’t any “bite” to the lentils anymore.
The longer you simmer the more it’ll be a stew rather than a soup. Use your own judgment and taste for that… and keep tasting it! : ) Snuggle up on your couch with a warm drink and enjoy!
Note: One interesting technique they champion in the China Study Cookbook which I haven’t tried yet is to saute everything in broth rather than oil. I imagine you have to watch the pan a little closer so that things don’t stick. The idea is to reduce extra fats, so if you’re interested in that then try sauteing in half a cup of broth instead of a dash of oil and see if you like the results!