I’ve fallen off my meal-planning wagon big time. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I managed to both make and carry through a plan – not even on weeks where I am only able to cook twice. Anyways, one of my grand meal planning ideas has always been to make a soup or stew once a week. Soups and stews generally make for awesome leftovers and my best meal plans involve judicious use of leftovers more so than cooking every night. I swear I can’t cook more than 3 times a week, and in theory I love food, to think about food and to cook.
So add bad meal planning + bad blogging and I bring you Monday Soup (let’s see if it sticks). This week I’m sharing one of my favorite super easy soups. I found it in a little book called Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman – this book is organized by season and designed for simple, quick meals. It is not a traditional cookbook – no ingredient lists and all the recipes are basically one chatty paragraph (kind of the Elizabeth Zimmerman of cooking recipes). It doesn’t look like much but it is fast and I often have everything but the cilantro in my pantry (and I often have cilantro that needs to be used up in my produce drawer).
Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro, makes about 4 servings
1 onion, chopped (I’ve done half an onion before, if there is half waiting to be used up)
1 c. red lentils, rinsed
4 c. broth (I use a weak vegetable broth)
more olive oil
salt & pepper
cayenne pepper (optional)
In a 3 or 4 qt soup pan heat the olive oil on medium and add the onion to saute until soft. Add the lentils and broth, simmer until soft – about 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or electric blending device of your choice), puree the cilantro with some olive oil (I often just add a spoonful of soup to get the required liquid level) and pour the cilantro puree back into the soup. Stir vigorously to break up the lentils, if you want it smoother you can do a quick blend with the immersion blender (which I do since I’ve already dirtied it). Season to taste with salt and pepper (and cayenne). Add the juice of a lemon just before serving (or squeeze a wedge into each bowl). Done.
I often eat this with garlic naan from the freezer section of Trader Joes (garlic naan is one of my “make soup time fun” weapons with theHusband who isn’t as excited about lentil soups as I am), or another tasty bread (pretzel rolls, beer bread, or a nice crusty slice would all work well). And in my house that is dinner. I might add salad if I’m feeling fancy.