I am returning to earth-mother mode now that holiday excesses are receding. Other than local fare, which we are committed to eat, we are focused on whole grains and legumes. We can get some reasonably local dried beans – from Cayuga Organics in the Finger Lakes district of New York State — but need to import the rest from the Midwest. I grew some drying beans myself last year but ended up saving them for next year’s seed.
Everything in this delicious soup is local except for the lentils and seasonings. I used an organic, French type of green-and-black-flecked lentils, which hold their shape better than the standard green-brown version. I made an extra large batch of lentils for dinner last night, knowing that I could add liquid and vegetables to turn it into soup today. The extra liquid for Day 2 was “bean juice” from cooking gorgeous Christmas limas for another meal. It was too good to throw out. Vegetable broth, or even water, would work fine. I wrote the recipe for lentil soup but if you were making lentils alone, use 3 times the amount of liquid as lentils and cook at a gentle simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. I like to cook them with onions and carrots and season them with sherry vinegar, which creates a spark and diminishes the need for salt.
Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Chard
1 c organic green-black dried lentils (or French de Puy lentils)
½ small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tsp vegetable oil (I used local butternut squash seed oil)
4-5 c water or vegetable broth, or a combination
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
3-4 leaves of chard (without the center stems)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Rinse the lentils and inspect them for wayward stones
Slowly cook the onion and carrot in oil until slightly tender. Add the lentils and stir to coat with oil. Add the water or broth and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and cook at a gentle simmer until the lentils are nearly tender, about 25 minutes. Add the sweet potato and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the chard and cook for yet another 5 minutes. Add more liquid if the soup is too thick (or remove the lid when adding the chard if it seems too thin). Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of sherry vinegar.