Recipe Review: Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup (4 stars)

Traditionally, people tend to eat black eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day.  I bucked that trend (and to be honest I don’t actually remember ever having eaten black eyed peas) and decided to make, for the very first time, lentil soup.

I’ve had great luck with recipes from Alton Brown’s kitchen so when I found this Lentil Soup one, I decided to give it a try.

All of the ingredients I used were organic, which the exception of the spices.  And speaking of spices, I had to skip the ground Grains of Paradise as I could not find that spice at my local grocers.   I will have to special order that spice for the next time I make this recipe.  And there will be a next time.

This was super (or should I say ‘souper’) easy to make.  And it didn’t take me as long as his recipe stated to prep.  Probably just 15-20 minutes instead of thirty minutes.  I sweated the vegetables a little longer than his recipe stated because I used my new crockpot and not a dutch oven.

Terry and I both had two bowls of the lentil soup for supper.  Very good.  We have enough left over to freeze and/or eat again later this week.

Happy New Year!

Family Recipes: Grandma Marie’s German Potato Soup

We made a double batch of this wonderful potato soup on Sunday. I had both grandchildren of Marie Hodge present as taste testers to confirm the authenticity of the recipe.

Back in 2001, I contacted my then living grandmother, Doris Andrea, for recipes and stories to be included in a local church anniversary cookbook. This was one of the recipes she provided me. The story she told me to accompany this soup hailed back to the hard days of the Great Depression and making simple hearty meals that stretched ingredients.

Addendum (updated 8:15 am 11/09/2015):  Some specifics on the double batch version of this recipe we created in my kitchen yesterday morning include using two 3-pound bags of organic russet potatoes, about half of an organic yellow onion and a few stalks of organic celery.  The rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the bacon, were non-organic.  Instead of a quart of milk, we used a quart of half-and-half (store brand).

The bacon was an uncured natural version from Farmland.  To bake bacon in the oven, cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (makes cleanup easy) and place the strips of bacon so they just barely touch.  I can usually get an entire 12 ounce package of bacon on my largest baking sheet.  Place the sheet in a cold oven and set the temperature for 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Set the timer for 20 minutes and check the doneness of the bacon when it dings, adding more time if you want it more done and/or crispier.

Recipe Test and Review: Chef Meg’s Loaded Potato Soup

I needed to use the rest of my organic russet potatoes purchased while Rachelle visited us.  Terry suggested potato soup, so I went searching for a new potato soup recipe, one with fewer calories (for me … Terry needs to put on weight so he can really load it down with cheese and bacon).  I found one at SparkPeople, created by their Chef Meg Galvin called her Loaded Potato Soup.

Her prep time of fifteen minutes turned into my prep time of forty-five minutes, but I don’t have the benefit of years of knife skills honed to perfection on the culinary cutting board of her career.  I did learn the proper way to cut an onion, thanks to several online knife skills videos.

I got my large saucepan out to heat up and began following her instructions.  I did great until I reached the part where I was to add the spices.  I had not laid out my non-vegetable ingredients before I started cooking, so I looked up at a partial list of ingredients on the recipe web page (partial because I had scrolled down to read the directions and the first half of the ingredients rolled out of sight off the top of the page).  The pepper listed last was cayenne (a quarter teaspoon) which I immediately added to my saucepan.  Then I needed to add the thyme, and I had to scroll back up to find out how much.  When I found it, I realized the ingredient immediately preceding the thyme was black pepper.  So, I had just mistakenly added the cayenne pepper where I should have added a half teaspoon of black pepper.  Argh!.

I quickly read further through the directions and realized the cayenne was added, almost like a garnish, after you remove the bay leaf.  I shrugged and added the black pepper, thyme and bay leaf, since there was nothing I could do about the cayenne pepper at this point.  The rest of the process went without further mishap.

I simmered the soup for more than the suggested thirty minutes (probably more like forty-five minutes).  I did not opt to add the corn nor the lettuce.  And, rather than getting my blender dirty just to puree the soup, I used a mashed potato masher utensil instead.

I filled two bowls with the soup and crumbled turkey bacon over both of them.  I added a handful of colby jack cheese to Terry’s bowl, but left my dairy-free.  The soup had a bit of a kick, both from the yellow bell pepper and, I suspect, the too early application of the cayenne.  But, both Terry and I cleaned our bowls.

I will probably try this recipe again, now that I am familiar with the process and can refine it for our palettes.