Tag Archives: Mushrooms

Lentil Vegetable Soup

2013-01 lentil veggie soupI have really been enjoying soup lately. With the cold temperatures outside and frequent snowfall, it’s nice to know that a fresh, hot cup of soup can be ready in minutes. Soup is a great way to incorporate a variety of vegetables into a meal, and by adding lentils it is hearty enough for an appetizer or a whole meal. An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences late last year finds evidence that humans evolved with larger brains because they cooked their food, which allowed more energy and nutrients to be absorbed in their bodies. It sounds like eating homemade soup is both tasty and a smart thing to do.

I wanted to try making a lentil soup, since you do not have to spend time soaking or peeling lentils – just rinse and add to the soup. This is a time saver over dried beans. I found an online recipe for Chunky Vegetable-Lentil Soup from Better Homes and Gardens, and made a few modifications to remove the onion and boost the number of veggies. I added peapods to my soup, and in my next batch I added spinach, which both worked well and added to the flavor. This soup tastes even better on the second day once the vegetables have a chance to meld. When reheating, you may choose to add another cup of water because the lentils, over time, will soak up moisture and the soup will thicken.

I hope you enjoy this delicious soup.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 pound whole small mushrooms, sliced
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 stalks celery, chopped
3/4 cup favorite vegetable (such as peapods or spinach) – optional
4 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth (I like Pacific mushroom broth)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook for 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in lentils; cook and stir 1 minute.

Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, any other favorite vegetable, water, vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.

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Stirring and Statistics for Risotto with Sausage and Spinach

This past Friday night, I boldly stirred something I had never stirred before…risotto. Risotto is an Italian rice specialty made by stirring hot stock into a sautéed rice mixture (thanks, Epicurious, for the definition). The slow addition of hot stock allows the rice to release starch, which gives risotto a creamy consistency.

I had never before made risotto, although I found a recipe in the January 2012 edition of Cooking Light magazine that caught my eye. I made my substitutions (including adding garlic, eliminating the shallots, using homemade chicken stock, substituting the white wine with water, and finding a chicken sausage without yeast, sugar or onion) and followed the directions closely, which yielded a delightful result. However, I learned a few things about risotto that I want to share with you so you can learn from my novice mistakes:

(1) Prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time. This is because once you start stirring, you will find it hard to stop. Fortunately, I prepped fairly well ahead of time so my mushrooms were sliced, garlic was minced, sausage was diced, and other ingredients were accessible. The spinach however, remained in the bag, unwashed. As I stood stirring at the stovetop, watching with amazement as the rice slowly became a creamy risotto, it became clear that the leafy green vegetable was not going to wash itself. I felt relief when SensitiveHusband walked in the door, home from work. I was so happy that he was home so we could chat, enjoy a good meal, and he could wash the spinach.

(2) When the recipe calls for “constant stirring,” it is not kidding. Pull up a chair, hold a good book in one hand, and keep stirring with the other hand. I was able to take mini-breaks, but once you wipe the sweat from your brow, return to stirring.

I found a few other good tips from Susan Russo for NPR, but as long as you follow this recipe you should not have any trouble getting the correct result.

While I was stirring, I had some time to think, and my thoughts drifted to rice production. So after dinner I did some research. Most risottos are made with arborio rice, which is mostly cultivated in Italy. The U.S. is a net exporter of rice, growing mostly long- and short-grain varieties. About 99% of the total U.S. rice crop is produced in four regions:
1. Arkansas Grand Prairie (Arkansas is the largest single rice producing state with about 45% of rice producing acreage);
2. Mississippi Delta (includes Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Louisiana);
3. Gulf Coast (Texas and Southwest Louisiana); and
4. Sacramento Valley of California.

The USDA’s rice outlook from February 10, 2012 notes that the 2011-12 global rice production forecast was raised 1.3 million tons to 462.7 million tons, which is the largest crop on record. It looks like Italy’s arborio rice crop is expected to be a good one this year, so enjoy your risotto!

Ingredients
* 3 cups (homemade or) fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
* 1 1/3 cups water
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
* 5 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and diced (about 2 links)
* 5 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
* 1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
* 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preparation
1. Bring broth and 1 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil); keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add salt and mushrooms to pan; cook for 8 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove mushrooms from pan, and set aside.
3. Add sausage to pan, and cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add rice; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water, and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
4. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Remove pan from heat. Add mushrooms and spinach; stir until spinach wilts. Top evenly with cheese. Serve and enjoy immediately.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Simple Living with Diane Balch.

Steak Tips with Mushroom Sauce

The grocery store recently had grass-fed steak tips on sale, and they looked quite fresh so I picked some up for dinner. When I got home I searched the Internet for some inspiration and found a recipe for steak with mushroom sauce. I had some frozen beef broth that I had made (yeast and sugar free) and made a few other changes to remove the onion. SensitiveHusband and I were really happy with the result. It was great enjoying a homemade sauce with our steak! Our sides included brown rice and roasted Brussels sprouts with grapes. We had a great meal.

Ingredients
1 pound sirloin tips
1 cup beef broth (homemade is my favorite)
8 oz mushroom caps, sliced
3 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. 

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with half of the beef broth. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil until it has reduced by 1/3.

Meanwhile, grill the sirloin tips to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

When the sauce is reduced, stir in the other half of beef broth, and garlic. Return to a boil, and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Sauce will be thin like au jus. Whisk in flour, and cook until the sauce is the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve tips with mushroom sauce.

This recipe is being shared with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage and Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine.