Nor’easter Lentil Stew

 

Here’s a yummy stick to your ribs kinda soup recipe for this cold stormy spring day.  Last time I posted it…was for a blizzard; today a Nor’easter.  Make a big pot so  you have leftovers for tomorrow…starting mine as soon as I finish posting this. Lentils are good for you and hearty in stew for chilly days. I took a basic Italian lentil soup and kicked it up a bit with some changes and additions.  My daughter and I love the Italian sausage in it and I especially enjoy adding shredded kale to the mix.  Kale is still very trendy these days but I have been using it for years; this is one of my favorite recipes to make with kale.  It increases the nutritional value and the flavor of a soup.  I also like how easily it goes together.  If you hate kale leave it out; spinach is really tasty too in it.  I prefer fresh kale, don’t forget to cut off the tough stems.  In this batch I used a mixture of sweet Italian sausage and hot spicy sausage.  Lots of extra flavor that way!

This stew could be made vegetarian; use vegetable broth and leave out the sausage.  I don’t always have the parm cheese on it but it is very tasty with it.

 

 

 

Lentil, Kale and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

¼ cup EVOL

1 cup diced yellow onion

2 large carrots, diced

1 garlic clove if desired; minced

1 can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste dissolved in ½ cup water

2 cups dried brown lentils, washed after measuring

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1-2 quarts chicken broth,  If you don’t have that much broth just use water for part of it.

1 lb Italian sausage (sometimes I use a mix package of mild and spicy links)

1 lb fresh or frozen kale.  Fresh is best; chop it up but frozen will do

½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, optional (for topping)

2 tbsp chopped parsley; can leave out if adding kale.

Directions:

Sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil in a big heavy bottomed soup pot.  I use a heavy bottom as your soup will be less likely to burn.  Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sausage; push the onions to the pan’s walls so they don’t burn.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add garlic and tomatoes and stir up well, add the tomato paste in water and cook 10 minutes.  Add broth and season with salt and pepper; remove sausage to a plate to cool. Bring the soup back to a boil and then add lentils.  Cook about 25 minutes, add the potatoes and cook 20 to 30 minutes until lentils are done to your taste, add the potatoes 20 minutes into the cooking time.  Stir pot occasionally so it doesn’t stick.  Add the kale and cook 5-7 minutes.  While the lentils are cooking you should cut up the sausage into rounds and add back to the lentil stew when they are done.    Let the soup stand at least 15-20 minutes once it is done.  Serve in a wide soup bowl with a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese on top.  Perfect on a cold winter night to warm you up from  your tummy to your toes!

sausage lentil stew

Originally posted February 2016.

Keema with Lettuce Curry

Lately I have been enjoying some wonderful meals centered around Indian curry. Sometimes chicken, sometimes lamb or beef. Keema means ground meat. I used this great recipe my sister Margie gave me for a ground beef or lamb curry with lettuce. Yes, that sounds odd, and honestly it took me quite a while before I made it. Well, it was just delicious. I have made this favorite recipe many times over the years. Unfortunately, the recipe was lost a few years ago and I finally replicated it fairly well using some curry recipes and my memories of the ingredients and the flavors I wanted to achieve. I couldn’t find any recipe for a beef/lamb curry with lettuce so I started with one that used peas as a major flavor and used ground meat and modified it to re-create my keema curry.  I love this made with lamb but I have used ground chuck in the past with a yummy curry resulting.

Curry is not that hard to cook; saute, dump, stir, simmer…but it generally has a lot of spices. I use these spices a lot making different curries. I know it seems like a ton of ingredients but please don’t throw “curry powder” in this in lieu of the spices I named. That is just not going to work as curry powder has a single somewhat flat note to it. All these spices as well as the ginger and garlic work together to create a symphony of amazing and delightful flavors. You can cut back on the ginger and/or garlic to make it more mild or strong. If you want it mild leave out the red pepper flakes.

I have successfully substituted tender shredded cabbage for the lettuce and I believe shredded romaine would also work. Possibly escarole would be successful too.

I didn’t take any cooking pictures; was not thinking about my blog. Next time I make it I will try to get some shots and add them to this post. Ground meat curries are not that pretty looking but the flavor was all there.

keema and lettuce curry

Keema and Lettuce Curry

Ingredients

1 tbsp. mild olive oil

½ tsp. cumin seed

3 cardamom pods

1 small cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 large yellow or red onion, diced (1 to 1.5 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ inch to ¾ inch of fresh ginger shredded or minced

½ tsp. red pepper flakes or a red chili pepper chopped up finely

1 bay leaf

1 ½ sp. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cumin

¾ tsp. ground turmeric

Skimpy ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (I am debating whether I want this in or not!)

½ tsp. garam masala (mixture of ground spices like cinnamon/cumin/chili powder/cloves) If I don’t have any on hand i make a quick version using these named spices)

1 lb. ground lamb or beef

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes or 2-3 diced fresh tomatoes

¾ of a head of iceberg lettuce sliced thinly; maybe 2-3 cups worth

1 to 1.5 cups water

2 Tbsp. plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:  Let meat rest until it has warmed to room temp. while you chop and measure. I put the whole spices in one small cup and the ground spices in a second small glass cup.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Any oil you like will work other than EVOL.  Add the dish of whole spices and let them heat until things crackle a bit.  Add the onions and cook until they are soft and starting to caramelize a touch. Add the ground spices as well as the fresh ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute. Add the ground meat; I push it down so the spices and onions are pushed up around the meat; giving the meat the majority of the pan surface to brown on.  Stir to brown the meat well. This may take 5-9 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sliced lettuce and stir well. Add 1 cup water, cover and cook about 40 minutes. Can cook longer; up to 60 minutes if you like. Stir it every ten minutes and add more water if needed. It should not be dry. Stir in the yogurt, add salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand five minutes before serving.  Remove the cinnamon stick. I try to pick out the cardamon pods as biting into one of them can be a bit overwhelming.

I serve mine over rice; brown rice is my preference for this curry.  I made some sautéed green beans and asparagus spears with black mustard seeds and cumin seeds; a great combination I stumbled upon. Enjoy!

My inspiration recipe was from my fancy pantry. They used peas not lettuce as the main veggie. I added and subtracted ingredients to re-create my beloved keema and lettuce curry.