Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's for supper? Summer.

In her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver answers the question, "What do you eat in January?" brilliantly. She says, "We eat Everything." As I aspire to reach such food-saving greatness, I can say with confidence that right now, "We eat Pretty Well."

I cracked open jar number two of the three jar canned tomato experiment a few nights ago and we whipped up this righteous winter soup. The next day, Highlander reheated the leftovers and messed with it. I felt a little hurt, thinking soup-perfection had been disturbed, but then I nearly licked the bowl as I complained.

We are big fans of the super simple beer bread. A loaf of that never lasts long, especially when you serve it with this soup.

Here it is:

1 quart jar of your very own home-grown from-seed Brandywine tomatoes.
14 ounces of low sodium chicken broth (check the ingredients...MSG lurks about)
3/4 cup of rinsed and re-rinsed lentils
1/4 cup of rinsed and re-rinsed brown rice (not instant!)
one large white onion, diced
four cloves of garlic, sliced
olive oil
fresh parsley
salt and black pepper

Cook the onions and garlic in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until they are translucent. Add a little more olive oil and stir in the lentils and brown rice. Turn up the heat to high and stir for about a minute. Pour in half of the can of chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper (as much as you like.) When the mixture reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium low, put a tight fitting lid on it, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check the lentils and rice for doneness and add the rest of the chicken stock if you like your soup a little thinner. Re-season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley to taste after your soup is in the bowl.

For the bread, you'll need to put 3 cups of white flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a big bowl. Stir in 12 ounces of beer (darker makes a better bread) and turn the mixture into a greased loaf pan. Put in a preheated 375 degree oven for an hour. I've added diced shallot and oregano to the batter and that was pretty amazing. There's a bonus with this bread, too. It makes your house smell like you know how to bake bread. Even if you don't. It's a crusty, rustic bread. So if you really like the looks of the Wonder Bread Sandwich variety, you won't be pleased by the finished beer bread loaf.

The day after the soup experience, Highlander added 1/4 teaspoon of hot Indian Chili Powder and 1/2 teaspoon of Garam Masala. If you don't have those things in your kitchen, go to downtown Cedar Rapids to the Asian food store on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 8th Street for the Chili Powder and check the bulk area of Hy-Vee for the Garam Masala. We use the Frontier variety here. It's mighty fine. You should have these things in your house, anyway. I'm trying to learn to cook a few Indian foodie things and if you don't have the hot hot hot Chili Powder and Garam Masala, you'll just have to imagine your way through the next few months of my little foodie blog.

Merry Christmas.