Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just another Tuesday (Glee) Night

posted by Melissa Baumgart
Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
Tuesday Night Dinner
Today my plan was to attempt to keep up with my goal of making bread 3 days every week and that whole everything from scratch thing.  Even though I spent last night at a pub eating everyone's leftovers (does that count since I didn't order it myself?) and tonight at a movie theater watching the season premier of Glee.

I did make bread, and it was the best so far.  I am thinking the more you make bread, the better you get at it.  Tonight's bread was crusty on the outside and fluffier inside.  Makes we wonder what the next one will be like?  Because so far I have to say, as good as it is, it is not better than store bought.

I also made another recipe from my new favorite cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller.  This time I went for the Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup.  Making a soup from his most simple of cookbooks, is not simple at all.  You have to accomplish multiple steps, like cooking each vegetable separately and cutting your own parchment paper lid.  This last part seems to be an essential for most soups.  At least this recipe didn't call for some already made ingredient from the back of the cookbook, like many other recipes do.  You really have to plan ahead.

Here is the recipe, and I have to say, it was pretty damn good.  As is everything else I made from said cookbook.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
8 ounces of applewood smoked slab bacon
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Cups thinly sliced carrots
2 Cups coarsely chopped leeks
2 Cups coarsely chopped onions
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
Kosher salt
1 ½  pounds sweet potatoes
2 Sachets (1 bay leaf, 3 thyme sprigs, 10 black peppercorns and 1 smashed garlic clove wrapped in a cheesecloth)
2 Cups French de Puy lentils
8 Cups chicken stock
1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I did not use this)
Freshly ground pepper
Cilantro leaves

Cut the bacon into lardons that are 1 inch long and ½ inch thick.

Heat the canola oil in an 8 to 10 quart stock pot over medium heat.  Add the bacon, reduce the heat to low, and render the fat for 20 to 25 minutes.  The bacon should color but not crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon and set aside.

Add the carrots, leeks, onions and curry powder to the pot and stir to coat in the bacon fat.  Season with salt, reduce heat to low, cover with a parchment paper lid (*see note below), and cook very slowly for 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes.  Trim them and cut them into ½-inch dice.  Put the potatoes, one of the sachets, and 2 teaspoons salt into a large saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and spread on a tray to cool; discard the sachet.

Add the lentils, second sachet, and stock to the vegetables, bring to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender.  (At this point, the soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Spread the bacon in a small frying pan and crisp over medium-high heat.

Add the vinegar to taste to the soup, then add the potatoes and heat through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve garnished with bacon crisps and cilantro.

-Makes 10 Cups

*Using a parchment paper lid for soups allows some evaporation because of the small steam hole cut in it.   But because it covers the meat and/or veggies, it keeps the liquid from reducing too quickly and prevents the surface from becoming too caramelized as it cooks.  It's like having a lid and not having a lid at the same time.

To make a lid:  (this is my I-don't-want-to-type-anymore-version of making a parchment lid)
Cut a piece of parchment paper the same size of the pot you are using.  Fold it into a triangle with one curved side and cut a small piece out of the center)


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