Cooking a couple of soups over the weekend is a small task that sets me up for success in the coming weeknights ahead. I’m able to get meals on the table quickly- just heat and add a side salad and bread, or pack lunches in the blink of an eye. Shoot, I’ve even had a bowl or two of dal for breakfast.
With Portland’s rainy season showing no relief, here are a few of my favorite soups for when the temperature won’t cross that 56 degree threshold, and despite your Cascadia citizenship, you really do need an umbrella to go outside.
Whole Foods Market’s Lentil Chili:
With brown lentils standing in for ground meat, this hearty chili is a blank canvas for all your favorite add ons: green onions, sour cream, cheese, fried onions, franks hot sauce and or pickled jalapeños. One batch lasts in the fridge for a good week- getting you one weekend lunch, one weeknight dinner (served over a baked potato), and two to three small (1 cup) servings for week lunches. I’ve made a few tweaks to this recipe, using only one cup of lentils and adding a a beer with the liquid and a can of drained and rinsed kidney beans at the ed of cooking. I also like to throw in a 16oz bag of frozen corn for texture.
Food 52: Coconut Dal.
Rich coconut milk and earthy cumin transform red lentils in this satisfying dal. As I mentioned above, I sometimes have cozied up to a bowl for breakfast when oatmeal just won’t cut it. A couple tips here. Make sure your diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) are well drained. Don’t skip the toasted cumin and mustard seeds. Finally, seek out fresh curry leaves, they add a complex aroma and flavor to this simple soup. You can find them at Uwajimaya in their produce section. ProTip: you can freeze the remaining leaves!
Black Bean Soup:
Is there a better pantry soup than black bean? It practically needs nothing from the ice box. I like to build off this Epicurious recipe adding a bottle of beer or some orange juice to develop flavor. I’ll also throw in a tablespoon or so of fish sauce for umamai. I choose to puree only half the soup, mixing it back into the pot retaining something to sink my teeth into. Served with a simple quesadilla, pico and a side of homemade cumin lime sour cream (I like to use a cashew cream) it makes for a great football/hockey/soccer/basketball watching meal.
Winter French Soup- this comes from the Sally Schnider book A New Way of Cooking (and is posted on line here!). If ever there were a recipe based off stone soup, this is it. Into the pot pretty much goes any and everything available at the farmer’s market: leeks, turnips, parsnips, celery root, carrot, onion and garlic. The broth gets a boost from a dollop of pesto stirred in right before hitting the table. Served in a large bowl with a giant slice of bread, it will get you through the darkest of nights.