Kansas City is snowed in, covered all over with a thick coat of white, fluffy snow. School is off and everything in the city has slowed down. It looks so beautiful if you sit inside snipping a hot tea and watch the flakes sparkling in the sun. But it is nasty if you have to leave your warm home, remove the ice from your car and fight for your life against the other drivers, who suddenly forgot how to drive and become an extraordinary risk for the public. No more comments about this point… Rather stay at home, don’t go out there!
The other fight I have to win every day several times, is against my hunger. For someone who can always eat and thinks a lot about food, exists a high risk to starve. Lucky me stocked up with everything I need for a nice warming soup several weeks ago. Not because I am really afraid to go hungry to bed in a city with 24/7 supermarkets and more restaurants than I can think of, it is my comfort food. Skip the trip to the supermarket, just open your pantry and having everything on hand for a warming soup, how good is that on a snowy day?
For your soup-lover pantry you can stock up with some of this stuff:
• The base: a good broth, low-fat, low-sodium. Don’t mess up your soup with cheap and flat broth. Use one you would like to drink. Or do your own and freeze, this is cheaper and easy to do.
• Beans are filling, high in fiber and soluble fiber (helps to lower blood cholesterol), packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron. I am a high believer of soaking dry beans other night and cooking them with bay leaves etc. to add more flavor. But I also have some canned beans on hand for a fast fix up. Think about garbanzo, cannellini, Navy and black beans.
• Canned diced tomatoes, not the seasoned one, you want to bring your own taste to the soup
• Dried lentils come in many varieties: red lentils get mushy, French green or Puy lentils keep their shape and have a nice color, brown lentil are the standard, you get them in every supermarket, beluga lentil are black and glisten when they are cooked. Lentils are a packed with dietary fiber, iron, protein and more.
• Grains are a good source for fiber, vitamins and minerals especially in the bran and germ. Unfortunately whole grains need a much longer cooking time, cook ahead and freeze. Think of millet and quinoa (both are gluten-free), barley (hulled and pearled cook faster), farro, brown and wild rice
• Dried mushrooms are very concentrated in flavor. Experiment to find the kind you like best. Shiitake (Chinese black mushrooms), wood and cloud ear and other Asian dried mushrooms are cheaper at Asian supermarkets.
• Vegetables like carrots, potatoes, celery and onions can be kept fresh for several days. Or use frozen like spinach, broccoli and peas.
• Couscous and small pasta shapes
2 strips thick cut bacon
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 oz / 411 g)
1/4 cup of each: millet, pearled barley, farro
1/3 cup red lentils
1 quart (1 Liter) veggie stock
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Greek yogurt or sour cream for topping (optional)
Cut and wash the leeks, chop the onion and carrots.
Put the grains (millet, barley, farro) in a fine mesh stainer, look for little stones and wash until the water runs clear. Dice the bacon.
Choose a large enough pot and add the bacon to the cold pot, set over medium heat and cook stirring from time to time until the bacon has rendered much of its fat and fry until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and put it on a plat with a paper towel. Pour off most of the fat until about one tablespoon is left. Add the onion and vegetables and sauté, remaining stirring until everything is beginning to brown about 10 minutes.
Add the millet, barley, farro, thyme, cayenne, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and the stock. Stir well, cover the pot and turn the heat down to simmer.
After 20 minutes wash the lentils and add them to the pot, simmer for further 30 minutes. Keep stirring and checking for enough liquid occasionally.
Serve topped with blue cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream and some pieces bacon.