Improvisation and children’s love of garden to table food come together to create and name this soup. After an improv in the kitchen last winter and an earning of the title “triple A” from my daughter, we made a second version together this week with the same rave reviews. Quoth the daughter, “awesome, amazing!” and said the son, “astronomical mom.”
This recipe is wonderful for inclusion of kids in the kitchen. It’s terribly simple, beginning with sautéed onion, garlic and dried herbs, added stock and tomatoes for base, a brief simmer, then inclusion of browned beef, lentils, fresh vegetables, a little pasta, et voila. Topped with a fine cheese, this soup is simply delectable and packs excellent nutritional value.
Reading Mollie Katzen‘s hand written base tutors years ago makes improvisational soups such as this so simple. Her Moosewood Cookbook gave her fame, but I find The Enchanted Broccoli Forest to hold the most magical advice, specifically her detailed descriptions of how to kneed brilliant breads and soup creation instructions that give any cook a solid basis for bringing out maximum flavor from each ingredient. Following her guidelines on sequencing ingredients is highly beneficial to the end product. Rules such as starting a sauté that includes dried herbs, rather than seasoning at soup’s end, is key to infusing flavor. Crushing our own dried herbs still in large leaf form by mortar and pestle also increases pungent taste.
Balance is a key to this soup’s success. A sort of minestrone by inspiration, it is also a well considered one pot meal, made in large proportions for storage of future meals (count on 3 four person servings from this recipe).
AAA Soup Recipe
1 c lentils, boiled until softened
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T each oregano and basil, dried and crushed
2 T olive oil, for sauté
1/2 t salt, pepper to taste
1 lb. lean ground beef, browned (Crown S. Ranch‘s free range is our local choice)
4 c chunked tomato, canned or fresh
5 c beef or chicken stock
handful of pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti noodles broken in small peices
peas, carrots, corn, spinach or choice combination of fresh vegetables
fresh grated cheese, Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
~Fill a small sauce pot with water and boil lentils until barely softened; at the same time, brown beef in a fry pan.
~Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot on medium high heat and add onions to sauté; crush dried herbs with mortar and pestle and add to sauté along with garlic, salt and pepper and cook until browned; stir in tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer.
~Let simmer on medium low for about 15 minutes; add meat and lentils and bring back to simmer; add vegetables and return to simmer; finally, add pasta and simmer until just tender.
~Top with Romano or Parmesan and serve with bread for a complete meal.
Love from our kitchen to yours, Georgina @ Soul & Stomach