Cold days and nights seem to call for homey, simple fare. For me, that's often a pot of homemade bean soup, and a loaf of good homemade yeast bread or cornbread.
Recently my daughter mentioned a lentil soup she'd concocted the day before and how well it had turned out, so I asked her for the ingredients and tried it myself. She wasn't kidding! This lentil soup was a hit! It was tasty, hearty, and nutritious, and in addition to the thick, yummy soup I did some tweaking of a standard cracked wheat bread machine recipe and it was a rip-roaring success, too. It has practically been inhaled and I'll be making more soon.
Without further ado, let me share the recipes. I'm afraid I don't always do a lot of measuring, so these amounts are approximate, but soup is a very forgiving and accommodating sort of food to cook, so if your proportions veer a bit from mine, that's not going to be a problem.
2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
8-10 cups water
2 large carrots, diced fine
1 cup celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound ground pork sausage, fried brown and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, drizzle some olive oil, and over low heat, add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, stirring frequently until the vegetables are somewhat tender. Add 8 cups water and lentils and bring to a simmer. Stir frequently. I tossed in some salt, too--about 2 or 3 teaspoons. Cover this but do remember to stir from time to time because as this thickens, it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot if you don't.
Meanwhile, brown and crumble your sausage in a frying pan. Drain, and set aside.
Okay, there's no set time to cook this soup. I'd give it a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour, but on low heat you can have it bubbling gently away for a couple of hours and it just gets yummier. I found I needed to add more water as it cooked down to get it to the consistency I like.
Anyway, when the lentils and vegetables are as tender as you want--I like mine to get downright creamy--add your cooked sausage, more salt and pepper if needed, and enjoy! Serve with your choice of hot fresh bread, biscuits, or rolls, and lots of lovely butter.
(NOTE: My daughter makes her soup in a large pressure cooker. It cooks in no time this way! Follow your cooker's instructions, and add the cooked sausage just before serving.)
Walnut Wheat Bread
11 - 12 ounces water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast
Measure all ingredients, in order, in your bread machine. Select "sweet setting" (2 hours, 50 minutes for my machine) and your crust setting. I used "light". Start your machine and keep an eye on it for the first few minutes in case you need to add a bit more water.
When baking is done, remove promptly from machine, turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack, and try to refrain from slicing it for 15 minutes or so for best texture.