Cooking a couple of soups over the weekend is a small task that sets me up for success in the coming weeknights ahead. Iâ€™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, Iâ€™ve even had a bowl or two of dal for breakfast.
With Portlandâ€™s rainy season showing no relief, here are a few of my favorite soups for when the temperature wonâ€™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 jalapeÃ±os. 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. Iâ€™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 wonâ€™t cut it. A couple tips here. Make sure your diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) are well drained. Donâ€™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. Iâ€™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 farmerâ€™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.