Today I woke up early, knowing it was my BIG EXCITING DAY! Thursday, December 18 has been marked on the calendar for some time now, hailed as the day for Session #2 in our series of six cooking classes: Shopping and Chopping; bring your favorite knife for Show and Tell.
Incidentally, I feel I must remind you that there are 7 sessions in our series of six…I never was good at math.
Well, to begin with, the weather forecast was gloomy at best. Ice, snow, wind and cold meant that the more senior among the class might balk at getting out of their warm homes just to watch Connie chop veggies. Then one pupil expected a phone call she MUST not miss. Suffice it to say that we had one brave student who dutifully brought her favorite kinfe. You’ll be interested to know it was a little paring knife with a plastic handle and she cannot keep house without it.
I was elated not to be alone in the kitchen! I poured a cup of fresh coffee and a tall glass of water for the two of us and began with a demonstration that would made pros on the Food Network and The Dinner Diva sit up and notice!
On the SHOPPING side of the curriculum, we discussed the sale circular from our local Tecumseh Central Market. We talked about which sale items would contribute to our good health and which ones would be better left alone. We are thankful that in this little town we have a market that caters to us budget minded food shoppers.
Considering the CHOPPING half of the lesson, I showed off my ability to sharpen knives. We chatted about WHY our faves are in the kitchen drawers and I demonstrated the cut for the ingredients for our menu.
Oh, the menu! Be still my heart! Considering that many people are preparing soups in this wintry weather and that lentils are very high in protein content, are a readily available, inexpensive choice, we ‘built’ a big pot of lentil soup! And it was divine. The recipe will be available for you below.
As we shared our lunch and participated in lively conversation about cooking and food and memories of dishes gone by, we bonded and looked to the NEXT session: “Cent$ational $killet $uppers” She can hardly wait!
We hope the weather man is more benevolent next month!
Here is the recipe for the WINTER LENTIL SOUP:
2 cups lentils, rinsed and soaked (I soaked these overnight)
1 tablespoon oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
6 to 8 cups water, or vegetable broth, or chicken stock (I used chicken stock today)
2 Roma or Plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped. If you prefer canned tomatoes, use a #303 size can and you may use the juice and all. Add these the last 10 minutes before you are ready to serve so they will not become mushy
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper and sautee. When the onions are transparent, cover them. Reduce the heat and allow them to carmelize. This will take about 20 minutes. When they have become brown and sweet, add them to the lentils and simmer together with the broth. Add the cumin and allow everything to cook together until the lentils are tender. Ten minutes before you serve the soup, add in the fresh tomatoes. The whole process should take about 45 minutes.
We like to pour this soup over slices of crisp bread toasts. With a little salad and a cookie for dessert, this makes a very satisfying winter lunch.
*VARIATION: you could add chopped carrot and/or celery to the onions and let everything carmelize together. This adds more nutrition and fiber to the dish.
**VARIATION #2: Chop bacon slices and fry in a separate skillet. Drain. Add the bits in when the onions are added to the lentils.
*NOTE: This soup lends itself well to crockpot cookery. Leave the tomatoes until the last, though, so you do not have a mushy product. Made today for tomorrow, these flavors will marry and the soup will be even better than freshly made. If you wish to freeze it, you can put in into a large plastic bag, cool, then freeze flat.
We made a large enough batch that this is ONE of the few nights we won’t need the services of The Dinner Diva !
For more great ideas, cooking tips, recipes, help with your food shopping and meal preparation ON A BUDGET, please consult: Food Stamps Cooking Club !