Sunday, October 30, 2011

Salt Lick

The weather here this weekend turned downright wintry, so soup was on the menu. I've been thinking about lentils lately (because, really, what else would I be thinking about?) and so I knew I wanted to do something with them. I did some surfing, and cobbled together a basic lentil soup with a fancier, more Mediterranean-spiced version, and then decided to throw in some chicken. It turned out great, and I predict it will be on the menu often this winter.

One note of caution: make sure the lid of your 16 oz. Whole Foods Sea Salt container is firmly affixed to the base.

Lentil-Chicken-Vegetable Soup
By Me

For the chicken:
1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 large bay leaf
Pinch of saffron
Sprig of lemon thyme (regular thyme would be fine)
Water to cover chicken

1. In a large, high-sided skillet, put all of the ingredients. Bring to a low boil.
2. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook til chicken is done, about 10 minutes. It's okay if it's not quite cooked, because it will cook more in the soup. Leave in the water until ready to chop.

For the soup:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 chopped carrots
2 chopped celery stalks, with leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
Chopped hot red chili, to taste
4-5 sprigs lemon thyme (regular thyme is fine)
Pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp fennel seed
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups shredded savoy cabbage (other mild cabbages would be good, too)
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1tbsp sherry vinegar
1 cup brown lentils
2 cups chicken broth
Water, as necessary
3 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, and roasted til soft (optional)
1 lb sea salt (optional, not recommended)

1. In a large dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion through a pinch of salt and pepper, and sweat the ingredients until they begin to soften, about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in the cabbage and potatoes, and cook, stirring until cabbage starts to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, stir.
3. Add lentils, stir.
4. Remove chicken from poaching liquid, place on cutting board. Carefully pour poaching liquid into pot with lentils. Add chicken broth and water (at least one cup of water; as the lentils cook, you might want to add more depending on whether you want it soupy or stewy).
5. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
6. While soup simmers, chop the chicken and tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Once lentils are tender, add both to soup. Simmer ten minutes.
7. Taste soup to adjust seasonings. If necessary, turn sea salt container over pot, let lid fall off, and dump 15oz salt into pot. Swear loudly and spin in a few circles while trying to figure out what to do, while spouse fights urge to laugh. (okay, I'd probably skip this step next time.) but do taste for seasoning...

I'd tasted the soup enough to know that the broth was wonderful. Sadly, i had to quickly rinse and recreate a broth...but next time I'll know better than to hold the whole salt container over the pot, now won't I? :/


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