Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Belly-warming Lentil Soup

So, I've been on a slight hiatus this week.  The family and I had to spend a few days in Los Angeles, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Los Angeles is becoming more and more vegan friendly, which is quite exciting.

Anyway, now that I'm back I couldn't wait to get into the kitchen! I made this tasty lentil soup that warms the soul, as well as some "tortas fritas" (an Uruguayan fried flat bread that is perfect on rainy days) and as if that's not enough I even tried my  hand at "Chik'n Seitan" from Vegan Comfort Food and it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was super easy and I can't wait to experiment more with other flavors (and I'll post some of those experiments here, of course!).

Now I have to decide which recipe to post.  I would love to put up the recipe for the tortas fritas, because it was actually easier than I expected but the instructions would take too long... and too many pictures to illustrate what I'm talking about. I think I'll need to master it a little better and get the measurements right first, since I'm going from watching my husband, who's Uruguayan, make these for years and never measuring anything.  (He always laughs at me, the American, always needing my measuring cups and spoons).  So, for easiness I decided to put up the recipe for the soup, which goes along perfectly with all this nice, cold weather we're finally getting!

Here's the recipe, which can easily be cut in half if you're only cooking for 1 or 2 (or for 1 day, we have leftovers)

12 cups vegetable broth/water and bouillon in whichever combination you want to use that adds up to 12 cups of liquid
2 cups green lentils
1 cup pearl barley
2 - 3 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
2 medium russet potatoes, cubed
2 small stalks of celery

2 tbsp olive oil
about 1 tbsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
2 - 3 bay leaves (so you can plant them in hubby's bowl so he'll do the dishes)  :)

1/3 pkg vegetable crumbles (hamburger style)
1/2 pkg chicken-style strips

Now I took the easy way on this and put everything in the slow-cooker in the morning, so we'd have a nice steaming bowl waiting for the big one when she came home from school.  However, if you don't have a slow cooker or don't have the time, you can also cook it on the stove.

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add celery and saute until it begins to turn translucent.  Add broth or water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium heat until lentils and barley are softened and soup begins to thicken (roughly 1 - 1 1/2 hrs, although I'm not quite sure), stirring occasionally.

My family loves this one (extended family included) and my big one jumped up and down with excitement when I asked if she wanted to take some for lunch the next day.  So, I hope you enjoy making this one, and as always let me know how it turns out!

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