garner-ballard dinnertime

Second post today…  Sorry.  I should have waited and combined the two, but I had to post this accidental rediscovery of a dish we love.  In an effort to work healthy things into our dinners, we buy quinoa, lentils, pearled barley and beans in the bulk food bins at Bloomingfoods, our local co-op grocery.  Our counter tops are lined with Ball jars of various healthy things and they are our nutrient rich, bargain go-to ingredients for dinners.  Here is one of the absolute simplest dishes I ever make and one that is always a hit.  I hope it will encourage you to embark into the world of lentils, because they are one rockin’ legume.

This recipe originally came from Heidi Swanson who pens the San Francisco blog http://www.101cookbooks.com.  She has a wizardly knack for creating dishes from a handful of whole food, on-hand ingredients and somehow still making it taste like magic.  We love her Banana Walnut Espresso Muffins as well, which can be found in her cookbook called Supernatural Cooking.  Here is the original recipe, which includes saffron yogurt and a few other cool but not handy elements:

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lively-up-yourself-lentil-soup-recipe.html

My version of this recipe looks more like this:

Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup Recipe, Meg Edition

French green lentils are the only ones I can find (do not use green or “red” lentils from the normal grocery!  French lentils are tiny, dark dark green, and look like pebbles.  Beluga lentils are truly black and very hard to find in Indiana.)  I have used crushed, diced, or fire-roasted tomatoes, and they are all fine.  I also hardly ever use the greens unless I just happen to have them, but they get slimy if you have leftovers for more than two days (which we never do.)

2 cups green French lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
28-ounces canned tomatoes
1-2 cups water
3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped, optional
balsamic vinegar
ground red pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, optional

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens if using, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.  Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a few dashes of red pepper for some flavor. Ladle into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese or whatever you have on hand.

Serves 6 if using as a one pot meal, otherwise serves 8.

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