Monday, December 5, 2011

potage of red lentils with kale

Hello people. It is a monumentous occasion - today, at the very last minute, I dropped off my Cookie Swap packages at the post office. Three of my fellow food bloggers will soon be tasting the delights of the unhip squirrel kitchen. Hopefully they will be delights. I'm still a bit skeptical about putting baked goods in the mail.

Speaking of squirrels, while I was putting my packages together, I heard this screeching sound coming from outside. I looked out the window, and a squirrel was flipping out on my neighbour's balcony. It was perched on the railing looking very aggressive. It stayed there forever, just screeching and flapping its tail about. It left, then came back a couple of hours later and resumed screeching. It didn't bug me - if you must know, there was an embarrassing hour-long rendezvous between my Grooveshark account and Taylor Swift at some point this afternoon - and honestly, I was a little worried about the squirrel. I'm very sensitive to animals in distress (I ran out of the room crying in the middle of Food Inc. and made Adam shut it off), so I googled 'squirrel freaking out' and discovered that not only is there a forum dedicated to squirrels, but that people keep squirrels as pets! Wait a minute, what??

Hopefully he's got his problems sorted out now, because I'm going to talk to you about this potage of red lentils with kale. The original recipe comes from one of my mother's cookbooks. I can't tell you which one because I was looking at a photocopied page with no hints. It doesn't really matter though, because I ended up modifying the recipe quite a bit. It turned out to be a wonderfully hearty and filling meal, the kind that makes you feel warm from the inside out. Total bad weather comfort food. It didn't have a lot of added spices, so the flavours came from the vegetables and the lentils themselves.

The original recipe called for the soup to be pureed, but I really liked the thick chunkiness of the soup. I've had it pureed and it's lovely if that's what you're in the mood for, but if you're looking for a soup that eats like a meal, avoid the blender. Also, that would be kind of weird with the added kale.

Oh and, I've never made lentil soup before. I sauteed the lentils with the vegetables the same way I would if it were rice. I don't think that's the conventional way of doing it, but that's what I did and it came out very nicely. I chopped all my vegetables to be approximately 1/2".

potage of red lentils with kale

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 heaped cup of split red lentils
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups good quality vegetable broth (I used low sodium organic bullion cubes)
2 bay leaves
1 peel of lemon rind (about the size of your thumb)
salt and pepper
1 cup chopped kale

  • Melt butter in a cast iron pot (or other heavy-bottomed pan) and sautee onions until softened. Add carrots and celery and cook until they begin to soften as well. 
  • Add potatoes, lentils, lemon peel and bay leaves. Sautee for another couple of minutes, then add the vegetable broth. Let it simmer on medium-low heat with the lid on until your lentils are nice and soft, perhaps around 45 minutes, checking and stirring frequently, reducing the heat if necessary. 
  • Season with salt and pepper. Remove lemon peel and bay leaves. (Guess which step I forgot? Play Where's Waldo with my photograph to find out...) :-/ )
  • About 5 minutes before serving, throw in the kale and mix it in, allowing it to wilt.
  • If you're lucky, you'll eat this soup with a Fairmount bagel, but any bread will do!

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