Monday, January 31, 2011

Easy Lentil Soup

We're having this tonight!  A true "throw together" meal, great for any day.

Healthy, hearty and full of protein and fibre - this is a win-win soup!  Enjoy with some crusty garlic toast!

When cooking with lentils, I usually use red lentils.  The reason is they cook the fastest (less than 30 minutes usually) and they easily fall apart.  If you like lentils to stay together, I recommend brown lentils.  However they may take up to an hour, or more, to cook fully.


Time:  40 Minutes    |       Servings: 4      |      Difficulty:   Low

2 cups red lentils
8 cups vegetable broth (plus more if desired)
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 block smoked tofu, cubed or diced (optional)
1 bunch spinach, chopped (optional)

In a stock pot, heat oil on medium-high.  Add onions, carrots and celery.  Saute until translucent and well softened, about 7-10 minutes.  Add tofu and spinach, if using, and cook until spinach is wilted.

Add all remaining and ingredients and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked and falling apart.  If the soup is too thick for your liking, add more broth until desired consistency is reached.

Serve and enjoy!

Macaroni Bechamel

With a name like "Macaroni Bechamel" chances are you wouldn't conclude this dish is Egyptian.  Not only is it Egyptian, it is one of the most intrinsically "Egyptian" dishes to eat!  This, and Kusheri (aka Koshari).

Only by coincidence am I cooking Egyptian food while the political unrest erupts in Egypt.  As you know, I have a passion for world food, and I am still in my "Africa" phase.  I've got many more Egyptian, and Moroccan dishes to come!  Also from all over central Africa too.

Apologies for the lack of pictures - I am going to try to get these up as soon as possible.  We've moved and it has been a crazy busy time!

Some notes about this dish - I usually write down "preferred protein" because honestly recipes are for personalization, in my belief - therefore I say "whatever works"!  However, I do strongly recommend for this dish to use veggie burger crumbles, pulsed seitan or textured vegetable protein as they hold together well.

This recipe uses a few pots (about 4, minimum) - I truly tried to make this use less pots, but for efficiency, there is no other option.

Take care everyone!


Time:    2 Hours      |       Servings:  6      |     Difficulty:  Medium

3/4 lb macaroni

1 lb preferred protein, ground or pulsed, if applicable.
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon thyme, fresh (or 1/4 dried)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon oil

salt, pepper to taste

4 cups nondairy milk
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 all purpose flour
salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook macaroni according to instructions, drain and put back in pot. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, heat oil on medium and add onions.  Saute until translucent and add garlic and parsley.  Cook until fragrant, and add protein, heating through.  Add crushed tomatoes, thyme, cinnamon and salt/pepper.  If needed, reduce this mixture until it is thick.  Set aside.

In a stock pot, heat Earth Balance on medium heat and add flour.  Whisk continuously until flour is bubbling slightly.  Whisk for 1-2 minutes.  Add nondairy milk and vegetable broth in continuous, even streams.  Continue whisking and add nutritional yeast and soy sauce; sauce will become very thick. 

Add 1/2 of the bechamel sauce to the macaroni.  Stir to combine and in baking dish (lasagna dish or dutch oven recommended), add 1/2 of the macaroni.

On the macaroni layer, add all of the protein/tomato mixture.  Add remaining macaroni on top.

Pour the remaining bechamel sauce over the entire dish.  Bake in oven, uncovered, until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!