Red Lentil and Orange Soup for Spring Snow Supper

I hear we are in for one last snow on Friday, the first day of spring. Well, I sure hope it is the last storm!  That’s my excuse for why I can’t resist posting another soup.  I made this batch last week; I’ve wanted to try it for a few weeks.  It did not disappoint me with its unusual flavors and I enjoyed every naturally gluten free spoonful.

I did modify it somewhat, of course!  I changed the cilantro for parsley as I am not fond of cilantro and there is a reduced amount of garlic and of orange juice.  I love the bright flavors in this potage and as a bonus it is very healthy with the fresh orange juice, lentil beans, garlic and onions. If you love cilantro, sub it in for the parsley by all means.

Note, the red lentils, which you can get at the health food store, turn a soft maize color when cooked.  I think some brands are more orange in color but mine usually turns that soft yellow. red lentils

This recipe is a bit spicy but light as there isn’t any dairy or meat in this soup.  You will find this a great spring soup for this chilly spring week. 

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These are the sauted onions resting in a bowl before going back into the soup.

 

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Broth in the soup, lentils are low in the pot!

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Red Lentil and Orange Soup

Ingredients

  • ½ a bunch (1-inch-diameter bouquet at stems) fresh parsley
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3medium onions, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2large garlic cloves, fine chopped
  • One1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and fine chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
  • Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
  • One 14-ounce can chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

Instructions

Wash and dry the bunch of parsley. Cut off the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stems and chop them fine. Set them aside. Coarse-chop half of the remaining parsley leaves, refrigerating the rest for another dish.

Generously film the bottom of a 3 quart saucepan with olive oil – like two or  three tablespoons and heat it over high heat. Stir in two-thirds of the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the onions just begin to brown. Blend in the parsley stems, half the parsley leaves which you chopped, garlic, ginger, ground coriander seed, and the orange zest. Sauté all of that for about 20 seconds over high heat, until the pan smells fragrant. Scrape out into a bowl and set aside.

Pour the broth, water, lentils, and remaining onions into the same saucepan. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are nearly tender. Add the sautéed onions and seasonings and additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot tightly and simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors.

Stir in the juice from half a lemon, the juice of the zested orange, and additional water, broth or orange juice to taste, starting with 2/3 cup. Then warm and sample the soup for salt, pepper, and lemon juice, adjust them as needed.

Scatter the remaining parsley tops over the soup, and ladle it into deep bowls.

The original recipe before modifications came from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Bellissimo at Bella’s

Dinner out as a celiac is often fraught, cross contamination makes it so easy to ingest gluten and it is so hard to find memorably good  gluten free food.  This weekend we went to a restaurant where I have eaten safely four times in the past two years plus it is close by, no need to travel a distance for a decent meal.  Where you ask? Bella’s, right here on Main Street in Hellertown.  I have written about them before but they don’t know my face so I get the same good service as any other patron. This meal was definitely worth writing about.

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I usually get their ziti and once I tried the ravioli, both on the special gluten free menu I always ask for.  All were excellent. This time I did the unthinkable; I ordered off the nightly special!  Our very friendly and incredibly accommodating waitress went and asked the chef if he could make it with gluten free pasta and flour free as to the sauce.  Chef was willing and I waited with much anticipation.  Eating off the nightly special menu is something I haven’t been able to do in over two years.

I enjoyed a tasty house salad full of baby spinach leaves while we waited for our entrees.  Joe had a cup of soup with spinach and tortellini.  He said it was very good.  I sat dreaming of the day when I can buy gf tortellini in the pasta aisle and make my own version.

The atmosphere at Bella’s was enjoyable: their decorations were pleasing to my eyes, agreeable soft lighting, tables not too close and the Sinatra was quite soothing.  It was not loud in the dining room but I experienced a good buzz of laughter and talk; the vocal music of a restaurant full of happy customers!

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I confess I forgot myself and ate some salmon and pasta before this picture was snapped.

 

Our entrees came.  Mine was glorious looking.  A salmon fillet covered with sautéed red onions, fresh tomato and smoked mozzarella cheese.  It was resting in a sea of ziti with a light wine sauce with large and small shrimp swimming around (well, maybe the shrimp were just laying in it but I like to have fun with words!)  The menu didn’t mention them. Bonus!!

I dove in and the flavors were fantastic, the buttery wine sauce played oh so well with the salmon and its toppings.  But wait; I couldn’t find any avocado on my plate.  That was what had attracted me to this dish in the first place.  If you expect something that was mentioned in the menu then I feel you have the right to speak up and politely ask for it.  So I did and shortly a young man in an apron with a bowl of avocado slices showed up. He introduced himself as the chef; he was full of apologies for forgetting avocado on my dish and placed several slices on my salmon. How cool is that? A chef that cares enough to personally fix an issue right at table, Wow!

With the avocado it was even more amazing in the flavor department.  I declined to finish the large serving; saved some pasta and shrimp for lunch the next day.  Joe enjoyed his eggplant rolled and served in vodka sauce but I was just blown away by the complex flavors in my entree and that it was gluten free and whipped up that way especially for me.

Chalk up another safe meal for me at Bella’s.  I can’t wait to go back and try something else.   If you are celiac like me and dread meals out; this is the place to go.  Five times and never disappointed or glutened.  Perfect Italian and perfectly safe.

One Last Hot Soup for Winter 2015: Chicken Curry Noodle

Recently I fell ill with a pesky respiratory ailment and as I got sicker my body craved that old folk remedy: chicken noodle soup.  But, I was tired of the same old chicken soup which, lately, seemed light on flavor and not very exciting. I saw this recipe somewhere; frankly I was pretty ill and can’t even remember where I spied it.  Last weekend I just had to give it a try. It’s a humdinger of a spicy, flavorful brothy soup and just the ticket for whatever ails you or maybe you want to add a new flavor to your soup repertoire. It sure is not my usual chicken noodle!

This was one time I got adventurous with the Madras even though I am not a huge curry powder fan.  The spicy combination of hot peppers (I used a medium hot yellow hot one, an even milder green hot pepper and part of a sweet red pepper) and curry powder was great for opening my sinuses. The coconut milk pulls the flavors together to play nicely.  I used only one can of it but the original recipe used two. I could taste all the flavors, even stuffed up.   I loved every spoonful and felt better after imbibing!

I made my soup with some butternut squash which was already cooked and relaxing in my fridge. The original recipe used cooked cubes of red skinned yam, I plan on trying that version soon.  It also had fresh basil leaves shredded on top of each bowl; feel free to add some, There was no fresh basil around so my soup is without it.  I used some skinny rice noodles; the original recipe called for some weird sounding bean noodles.  I might use wider rice noodles in my next version or gf egg noodles.  You might use chicken breast if that is what is in the fridge or freezer. Add more chili garlic sauce if you love it hot; I went with the lesser amount; go as high as 2 tsp. if you dare!  I added the zucchini for more vegetable impact, add or subtract a vegetable of your choice….

That’s the one thing I want to stress in this post; you don’t have to have every single ingredient to make a soup recipe, its okay to make substitutions.  This is not baking, where you need to be more exact.  The only thing I ask is: don’t complain all over the place if you dislike the dish after you made huge changes to the ingredients.  I see that on foodnetwork.com and epicurious.com all the time and it makes me nuts.  No whiners!

So have fun and throw a different and spicy soup that will warm you totally up, it’s really not that spring like today and your body will thank you.

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Just after adding the zucchini slices.

 

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Ready to spoon out into the bowls.

Curry Noodle Soup Recipe

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups of cubed cooked butternut squash or yams
7-ounce rice noodles, skinny or wide

4 cups gluten free chicken stock (I like Kitchen Basics)
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
¾ pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced

1 small zucchini sliced into half rounds

1-2 red, yellow and/or green chilies, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into half

Directions

Roast a butternut squash which you have cut in half the long way and seeded.  I place the halves cut face down on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, bake at 375 or 400 degrees until soft; 30-40 minutes, depends on the size and thickness.  Another option is 1-2 yams roasted and cubed.

Add the rice noodles to 1 ½ cups boiling hot water, turn off the heat and let stand ten minutes. Drain.

In a soup pot, combine the chicken stock, coconut milk, curry powder, and chili garlic sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Add the sliced chicken thighs and cook for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini at the start of the last 4 minutes. You don’t want them overcooked, still a tad crisp. Add the squash or sweet potatoes and the soaked noodles and heat through. Add the chilies and green onions and squeeze in the lime juice.

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Serve the soup making sure you get some of the pepper chilies slices and green onions in each bowl.

Servings: four to six depending on bowl size.

Cranberry Blueberry Muffin Treats

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Oh nuts, we are out of muffins….again.  That’s no good! I didn’t go far from my favorite recipes to make these, possibly my favorite muffins of all time. This is a riff on my fall of 2014 take on a muffin recipe out of Annalise Robert’s cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics; her blueberry muffins but with a special topping. If you are looking for a great source recipe book this is it: her gf quick breads are particularly delicious, all my gluten loving friends and family enjoy them.  I made her brownies this past weekend; always perfection and rapidly devoured.

I have a confession to make: I have never been a big fan of cranberries.  Until this winter! I decided to experiment with them and found that they play very well with a variety of fruits for muffins, tarts, pies and crisps.  The cranberries brighten the flavor and add a lovely rosy color.  Do look beyond your prejudices to their sharp flavor and give them a second try.  I am so glad I did.

These muffins did not disappoint: delicate texture yet slightly crunchy outside with a great fruity flavor and just enough sugar for me.  To measure I poured about ½ cup of blueberries and added the rest of the measure out of the bag of cranberries. I used frozen fruit; easy to get in the winter, don’t defrost them before adding. The streusel topping insures that they look straight from a gluten free bakery.

There are walnuts in there so you get some really great nutrients from the fruit and nuts.  Not much guilt in eating one of these treats! You can swap the white sugar for coconut palm sugar which is very low as far as raising blood sugar.  I am out of it so I had to go with what was in my pantry.

I like to test eat a muffin from the batch while they are still warm out of the oven, at the moment of perfection.  This version is perhaps my favorite of every single muffin recipe I have tried.

It is smart to freeze any you won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

Here are the pictures I took while making these muffins. From the outside they look somewhat plain so I took one shot of a cross section so you could see the baked fruit inside this yummy breakfast treat.

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Cranberry Blueberry Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries and blueberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent

½ cup canola oil

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, make sure the butter is in tiny pebbles; use your fingertips to blend.

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

1½ tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. cinnamon

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Directions: Heat your oven to 375 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 12-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl Add fruits and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Beat in eggs, add vanilla.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir just until blended.  It is a very thick batter.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a rack.  They freeze well for a few weeks, if they last that long.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) or an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s blend)
2 c brown rice flour (must be finely ground: I spin mine a while in the blender cup by cup to improve its texture.)

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Yummy Lemon Sauced Turkey Meatballs

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Okay, it is still winter and pretty cold but spring looms with daylight savings time beginning plus I am a tiny bit weary of posting soups.  I do enjoy other sorts of food you know! There is this recipe I’ve been making for years. The other day I was chowing down my lunch and someone said, “What is that lovely roasty smell?” and I was able to say with a smile that it was my turkey meatballs with lemon gravy.

They are not fancy; the recipe, which I tore out of a woman’s magazine a decade ago, said they are supposed to replace regular meatballs as healthier but I just like them for their homey taste and the excellent sauce!  You can also make them with ground chicken; very good as well. I never seem to have enough sauce so you could make even more of that and be happy with the amount.  I used to have them over noodles all the time but now that I am gf I occasionally use white or brown rice, both work very well with this sauce.  I am guessing quinoa would be nice as well.

It is the lemon that makes them taste so good but I also like the carrot and scallions in the sauce.  Home flavors and pretty healthy, this is a satisfying meal with a starch and a veggie added on.  And you can put it together in 30 minutes. Perfect for a week night supper.

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Lemon Sauced Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey

1 medium onion, minced

1 large egg

¼-1/3 cup gf bread or cracker crumbs

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce.

½-3/4 tsp. lemon zest

½ tsp sea salt and same of pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup plain low fat or full fat yogurt

2 tbsp. gf flour of your choice

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 carrot grated fine

2 scallions chopped into small rounds

1/3 cup celery leaves chopped fine, optional

Directions:

Mix the meatballs up in a large mixing bowl; dump in the ground turkey, add the onion, crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, sea salt, pepper to taste and egg.  Mix until fairly well distributed. Form into 12-16 meatballs.

Heat the oil in a wide Teflon or cast iron pan.  Add the meatballs.  Brown them on all sides, turning carefully with a spatula and a fork. When browned add the broth and cover.  Cook 12-15 minutes, add up to ½ cup more broth if needed; there should be at least ½ cup left when they are cooked.  Add the flour to the yogurt, stir and add to the pan.  Add the lemon juice and stir in the carrot, celery if using it, and the white parts of the scallions.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add the rest of the scallions and stir.  If it seems too thick add some more chicken broth.  I like this new concentrate I found; by Kitchen Accomplice, makes 28 cups, it is a small squeeze bottle of liquid. Very handy and GF.  Perfect when you need less than 15 ounces of broth.

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Serve the meatballs and sauce over rice or noodles. I have been experimenting lately and served a topping of pickled red onions; really nice zingy addition…up to you.  For that I cut up part of a red onion and top with cider vinegar to cover, let stand at least 30 minutes. Will keep overnight in fridge.  It is a fun topper on salads too.