A Mixed Vegetables & Greens Soup And Red Lentil Tomato & Saffron Soup
Well, looks like the flu is making the rounds at work and I was not immune to its path. This strain has knocked me down for the greater part of last week. I am just starting to feel my head being clearer although I am still hacking away and the most simple activity leaves me completely wiped of energy. It totally zapped my appetite too leaving me with little desire or interest in food. A travesty!
I do know however that my body requires good, wholesome fuel in order to fight the virus. After the first couple of days spent on chicken broth, I took opportunity of a few moments when my energy was better to head out to the kitchen to fix a couple of big batches of nutritious soups. Even if I could only manage a spoonful here and there, I purposely cooked soups that would provide me with all the nutrients, proteins, natural carbs and fiber I needed.
While I might have had to sit down at the kitchen counter to chop vegetables (legs and arms were getting tired fast), the promise of being able to lay back on the sofa, curled up with a pup and a hot bowl of soup was equal to none. Very slowly, one spoon after the other, I might manage this eating thing…
The first soup I made was kind of one of those you might create while cleaning out your fridge. I started picking up ingredients with flavor profiles that would work great together and added a few unexpected things to it. Spring cabbage, carrots, onion, potatoes were chopped, diced and simmered together. A whole head of mizuna went in last, adding a nice peppery touch. The whole thing got a whirl in the Blendtec until smooth. I served the soup warm, topped with some leftover cooked salmon and some pomegranate seeds. Nourishing and filling. While my husband took his with a glass of wine, I had to take an extra swing of cough syrup…but still, there was progress with the whole no appetite thing!
The second soup was from Diana Henry’s new book "A Change of Appetite". I love that book and have been cooking my way through it over the past few months. I had been eyeing her "Lentil and roasted tomato soup with saffron" for a while and happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. So with a little adaptation in execution such as replacing fresh tomatoes with a canned fire roasted tomatoes and subbing the yogurt topping for a little creme fraiche, I was in for a rich soup packing a bunch of comforting flavors.
Mixed Vegetables & Greens Soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 small red potatoes, skinned and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small bunch Parisian carrots or 4 medium regular carrots, peeled and diced
1 head Spring cabbage, (about 4 cups), chopped
1 quart water, chicken stock or vegetable broth
1 bunch mizuna (you can omit or use 1-2 cups arugula)
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz cooked or grilled salmon (you can use hot smoked salmon too)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
In a large Dutch oven, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, potatoes, garlic ad carrots and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the vegetables start to color slightly. Add the cabbage and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the water or stock. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
Remove from the heat, let cool for about 15 minutes, add the mizuna and process the soup in a food processor until smooth. Check the soup for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to your taste.
When ready to serve, reheat the soup over low heat if necessary, ladle into bowls and top with some salmon and pomegranate seeds.
Lentil & Tomato Soup With Saffron, adapted from Diane Henry’s A Change of Appetite:
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of saffron
3/4 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and diced
1 cup red lentils
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
In a dry pan set over medium heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds for a couple of minutes. Let cool slightly and grind with a mortar and pestle.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion until soft and golden brown (about 8-10 minutes). Add the garlic, turmeric, saffron and ginger and cook for an additional couple of minutes.
Add the lentils and toss to coat. Add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils have turned into a puree. Season to taste.
Let cool for about 10 minutes then process the soup in a food processor until smooth or leave it chunky. When ready to serve, reheat the soup over low heat if necessary and garnish with creme fraiche (or sour cream or yogurt) and serve.