Archive | July, 2020

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

30 Jul

lentil soup spicy

Yes, loyal readers, I do sometimes make something other than lentil soup, even though I’ve posted many variations on this theme lately. Reasons abound: lentil soups are my husband’s favorites, they’re easy to make in whatever variation you choose, and lentils are really healthful. Most lentil soup recipes make a lot, so you can refrigerate or freeze leftovers and enjoy many meals (unless you’re making it for company).

This one is interesting because it uses bulgur in addition to lentils. The original recipe came from the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, but I varied it a bit. The original called for twice as much bulgur, which made the soup too thick — I had to add lots more water while it was cooking just to keep it liquid. It also suggested more chili flakes, which made it too spicy even for me, a spice-lover! A half-teaspoon is ample, but vary this according to your taste.

The soup gets very thick when you store leftovers in the fridge, but you shouldn’t need to add water; it loosens up when you reheat it.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½  chili flakes (or to taste)
3 Tbs. tomato paste (half a small can)
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups red lentils
1 cup bulgur
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes, tomato paste and stock. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Add the lentils and bulgur and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. If it’s too thick, add some water.

Puree half the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender and return it to the saucepan. Stir well and cook another few minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 12

Fried Rice

13 Jul

Fried rice

This is more a method than a recipe, so take the amounts given below a little loosely.

Basically this is a great way to use up leftover rice and vegetables — and also chicken or beef, though those are not essential.

In my house, there are usually only two of us for dinner and it’s hard to make some things in small amounts. Stir-fried vegetables is one of those things, since you need a decent variety of veggies, and by the time to slice up even a small amount of half-a-dozen kinds of vegetable,  you’ve got more than you need for two side-dish servings.

Ditto with rice. My go-to rice-making method calls for 1 cup of rice, which makes enough for 4 servings, so we almost always have leftovers.

The other day I served rice and stir-fried veggies and I intentionally prepared more vegetables than I’d need so that I’d have some to use the next day with the leftover rice in a dish of fried rice. I used a small onion (sliced vertically), a few strips of red pepper, a quarter-pound of sliced mushrooms, a small summer squash (sliced), about a cup and a half of snow peas and three stalks of bok choy (sliced).

I also used bean sprouts, but I didn’t add them in with the other vegetables because they cook so quickly and get overcooked easily. When the vegetables for the first night’s dinner were almost done, I took out and set aside half of them for use the next day in the fried rice. Then I added the bean sprouts to my dish of stir-fried veg. and cooked for just a minute or so more The next day, when I made the fried rice, I added some fresh bean sprouts (and also a sliced scallion) to the leftover stir-fried vegetables.

Use any combination of vegetables that appeals to you; good choices include onion, mushrooms, snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, sliced bok choy, zucchini, sliced celery, matchstick carrots. Chop the vegetables into small pices. Stir-fry the veggies according to how much cooking time they need; start with the onion, followed by mushrooms, then do broccoli, red pepper, snow peas, celery, bok choy, carrots, etc. If you use bean sprouts and scallion, add them last because they take next-to-no-time to cook.

Make a thin pancake out of a beaten egg and slice it into threads. Alternately, you can scramble the egg and chop the cooked egg into small pieces.

The fried rice comes together very quickly as you heat a little bit of oil then fry up the cooked rice, the cooked veggies and the egg shreds. Finish with a little soy sauce and you’ve got a great supper!

Ingredients

1 egg
1½ to 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
2 cups chopped mixed stir-fried vegetables
1 cup leftover chicken or thinly-sliced cooked beef (optional)
1-2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. soy sauce

Directions

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Whisk the egg, and when the pan is hot, add a few teaspoons of oil and heat for 10 seconds, then add the egg and swirl it into a pancake. When it is firm but not brown, flip it quickly to set the other side and then slide out onto a plate. Roll the flat sheet of egg into a tube and slice. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil and add the rice, stirring quickly to coat it with the oil. Add in the vegetables and the chicken or beef if you use it, and the egg slices and stir to heat everything evenly. Add the soy sauce and stir for another minute or so to coat everything in the pan, then serve.

Serves 2