Do you ever stand in your kitchen and say, There's nothing to eat...? I know I do. But if I take a look through the fridge and cabinets, there's always a lot of food there. Not to sound like parents at the dinner table, but there are people all over the world, in this country even, who would love the kind of "nothing" to eat that most of us have. I've started a little challenge with myself, to use what I already have, get creative, and rather than going to the store for more, see what I can come up with on those "nothing to eat" days.
First stop, Lentil Soup. I didn't have everything I might normally have used, but I made it anyway. This is not a real recipe, and it goes back to my favorite way to cook, which I learned from my mom, and from one of my all time favorite cooking books, Tassajara Cooking. I have the most fun when I just take what's there, throw it in a pot, and start stirring, sniffing, tasting, and adding things as I go. So here's how I made lentil soup out of nothing...
I had a few red lentils, and a few French lentils, so I combined them and soaked them in the morning, until I was ready to cook them later in the day. Although lentils don't really need to be soaked, I usually do it anyway, to clean them really well, and to speed up the cooking process a little bit.
When I soak lentils or beans, I place them in the large pot I'll be cooking them in later, cover them with a lot of water, bring them to a boil, and let them bubble for about 5 minutes. Then I drain off that water and repeat the process, leaving them to soak in the second pot of water for an hour or more, up to overnight. This helps them cook faster, and also takes the "gas" out of them. When it's time to make the soup, I drain off the soak water, and set the lentils aside in the strainer for a few minutes.
While the lentils waited patiently, I chopped up and onion and some garlic, and also some carrots and potatoes. I first sautéed the onions, garlic, and carrots in a little water, then poured in a box of veggie broth, a can of lite coconut milk, and tossed in the lentils. Bringing the pot to a boil, I reduced the heat to medium and let the lentils cook for a while. When they were about 15 minutes to done (by my guess) I added the potatoes and let it all cook together until everything was tender. At the very last I stirred in a jar of green curry paste, and seasoned the soup with tamari.
It was fast and simple and forgiving. And out of nowhere, we suddenly had 3 nights worth of dinners. Try this in your own way next time you think the cupboard is bare. I bet there's more there than you think there is.
What's for dinner? Look in the Recipe Box!