Turkish Red Lentil Soup

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We haven’t shared that many soup recipes on here, but soup probably makes up a good third of my diet. I love soup! This is just another reason why I was born to marry into a Turkish family. If you ever make it to Turkey (which I can’t suggest more highly), you’ll see that delicious soups are frequently served as a starter to evening meals and eaten for breakfast and lunch as well. Soup with every meal?! Basically my idea of heaven.

We’ve made and shared High Plateau Soup, another Turkish soup recipe before – it’s rich, creamy, and incredibly unique – at least for my American palate! This soup has entirely different flavors, very reminiscent of soups Selim’s aunts and grandmother made for us in Turkey. Red lentil soup (kirmizi mercimek çorbasi) is hearty and filling, easy to make, and delicious. Make for a week of lunches like I did, or maybe next Monday, if you subscribe to #MeatlessMondays!

Red Lentil Soup

(Adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Table)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 red potatoes, cubed
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Lemon wedges, extra red pepper flakes, and/or  for serving if desired
Instructions: 
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot.
  2. Once the oil is heated, add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened and fragrant, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add the lentils, potatoes, carrots, and stock to the pot. Simmer for ~30 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are cooked.
  4. Stir in the cumin, paprika, and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. Lower heat and cook for a 10+ additional minutes.
  5. Taste and add salt & pepper as desired.
  6. Stir in lemon juice just prior to serving.
  7. Serve with lemon wedges, mint, and/or extra crushed red pepper flakes.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Bright Lemon Chicken Soup

I’ve put off posting this recipe for almost a week now. Mostly because I’ve been busy with my current rotation and was feeling pretty uncreative. The creativity bug hasn’t bitten me in the meantime, but I didn’t want to forget this recipe because I really enjoyed it. The lemon makes a basic chicken soup just that much brighter and more enticing! Sorry for the lack of creative commentary 🙂

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Bright Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large lemon (zest & juice)
  • 8 cups of flavorful chicken stock
  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 (dry) cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Chives
Instructions:
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the chicken breasts for ~5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in large pot. Once hot, cook onions in the hot oil. Top with a few turns of fresh black pepper and cook for 8-10 minute until soft and fragrant.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon. Add these to the pot, along with the stock and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add these to the pot.
  5. Allow the soup to lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every once in awhile.
  6. Add the couscous to the pot. Increase the heat slightly. Couscous should be done after 6-8 minutes.
  7. When couscous is plump, remove from heat. Serve topped with a few snips of chives.

Sopa de Fideo (Almost)

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As is my usual plan, when I’m uninspired and looking for something to make, I turn to a) the internet and b) a random cuisine from around the world. Is it because I’m American and have always eaten “American” food, that I think it’s the least interesting cuisine out there? Or is it because legitimate “American” food doesn’t really exist – just a combination of bits and pieces of all of our immigrant roots? I think it’s probably some combination of the two. Whichever reason, I was thinking Mexican for my dinner creation. And I wanted something a little different. I feel like in this country, we just assume that Mexicans live solely on tacos, burritos, and the occasional chimichanga. There’s so much more to Mexican cuisine than that (obviously), but I’m the first to admit I don’t know a whole lot about it.

Why did I call this post Sopa De Fideo (Almost)? Well, turns out the fideo connotates a specific type of noodle. Fideo looks like spaghetti noodles that have been broken into smaller pieces (and as such, most recipes you see for sopa de fideo tell you to purchase spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces.) Before I read more about it, I thought, “Hmmm… that orzo I have in the pantry would be a perfect substitute for broke spaghetti pieces…” Little did I know by substituting orzo, I essentially took away the namesake of the soup.

Oh well…

Historical, ethnic accuracy? FAIL

Delicious soup? WIN

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Sopa De Fideo

(Adapted from Cooking the Globe blog)
Ingredients:
  • 2 + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14oz crushed tomatoes
  • 3 + 1 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 16oz orzo
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, avocado, cheese, crema
Instructions: 
  1. In a large pot, warm 2 tsp of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Top this with a few turns on fresh black pepper.
  2. Add the minced garlic, continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Now, combine the garlic/onions, tomatoes, spices (cumin, cayenne, allspice), and 1 cup of stock in a blender or in a bowl with an immersion blender. Pulse until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in the original pot. Once warm, pour in the orzo. Toss to coat with oil. Toast the pasta, stirring frequently, so it becomes golden, but does not burn. Give this ~5 minutes.
  5. Now return the blended mixture and the remaining cups of stock to the pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The pasta will plump up and the soup thicken a bit.
  7. At the end, stir in the lime juice.
  8. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as you like.
  9. Serve with one or several of the the garnishes!
Makes ~ 10-12 servings

Ham and Potato Soup

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For all of you who celebrate Easter with a massive ham and therefore, invariably have leftovers – here’s a recipe for you! This soup is flavorful, and stuffed full of ham. No guilt about wasting leftovers! On a related note, save or steal the ham bone! We’ll use that too. It’s not necessary to the recipe, but man does it make it better! The depth of flavor you get out of that ham bone is amazing.

I also got to wondering… how did ham become a traditional Easter food? The Jews-turned-Christians of ancient times certainly weren’t serving up pork on their dinner tables. Seems counter-intuitive that the descendants of religious Jews would go for one of the most forbidden foods in Judaism. As best I can tell, Easter ham is a relatively recent, American Christian tradition. Why? Apparently, back in the days before refrigeration, pigs were traditionally slaughtered in the fall and stored salted through the winter. This ham was edible around Easter-time, when other spring-slaughtered animals weren’t ready. Pretty practical and boring as traditions go…

Now if you’re observant or actually reading this the day I published it, you’ll notice that Easter isn’t exactly over yet. That’s because we were unable to go home for Easter with my family as usual and instead staffed the hospital. But we did buy a massive ham this week. It was only $1/lb! That’s basically free 💸💸 And let me tell you, if our think you have leftovers, try eating a whole ham between two people! So far we’ve had two friends over for ham & swiss sandwiches, repeated those sandwiches another night, had eggs and ham for breakfast, made this soup, frozen ~1/3 of it, and still have a good other 1/3 or so in the fridge! We’ll be eating ham until Memorial Day! With this soup, I was going for creamy, but a little different than the usual heavy-cream-filled potato soup. I think it worked! 💁

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Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 qt vegetable stock
  • Ham bone (if you have access to one)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 10oz leftover ham, chopped
  • 3 large yellow potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. If you have a ham bone, place it it a larger pot and cover with the 2 quarts of vegetable stock. Add the two bay leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low. [If you don’t have a ham bone, skip this step and just add the stock later as instructed.]
  2. Leave on the stove for an hour or as long as you have time for! The longer you leave it, the more flavor you’ll get out of the bone. If you have plenty of time and are getting tons of flavor out of your bone, you can top off with some water to keep it going.
  3. Allow the stock to cool. Skim off any fat and debris. You can also strain through cheesecloth if you like.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat your oil. Once hot, add shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Once they have started browning and are fragrant, add the ham, potatoes, stock, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  6. Raise heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook at this temperature for ~30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove roughly half of the potatoes to the side. Using an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor), blend together those potatoes and the milk.
  8. Return the milk/potatoes to the soup pot. Stir in to combine well. Leave at medium-low heat for another 10+ minutes.
  9. Serve with whatever toppings you’d like! (Cheese, chives, bacon, hot sauce, whatever!)

High Plateau Soup

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Do you love soup as much as I do? Are you looking for a little variety in your soup life? Then this might be the soup for you. A few years ago, we were in Turkey visiting Selim’s family. Over there, I basically hit the soup jackpot. Not only does Turkish cuisine include soup with most meals, which I think is a great idea, but I also got to taste several homemade varieties from Selim’s aunts and grandmother. These women sure know how to cook. While they didn’t make this particular soup while we were there, the flavors bring me right back to their kitchens in Istanbul.

If you’re reading the ingredients, you might be thinking two thoughts… 1) “Umm… isn’t yogurt supposed to be cold?” Or 2) “Uhhh… that sounds pretty simple. It’s probably not worth my time.”

Move past those thoughts. This soup is delicious! It’s creamy and comforting. It also has amazing flavor, belying its few ingredients. The flavor profile is unique, one not particularly familiar to the American palate. Give it a whirl; I’ll bet you’ll appreciate the introduction.

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Update 9/19/16: We were invited by Genie, at Bunny Eats Design, to add this recipe to her monthly link-up. Once I got over the surprise that someone out there actually read our blog (much less someone who’s blog I’ve enjoyed reading prior to this point!), I read about her link-up. It’s called Our Growing Edge and encourages participants to attempt food-related personal challenges. I love this! This post and recipe certainly fit into that goal, as I’m always wanting to create dishes true to Selim’s Turkish heritage. This month’s link-up is hosted by Chrystal at The Smallwood Parsonage, with the theme of Family Recipes. You don’t have to be invited to join – see here. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be reading through posts from past link-ups instead of studying. 


High Plateau Soup

(Recipe adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook, by Özcan Ozan)
Ingredients: 
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
Instructions: 
  1. Place the stock, rice, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the paprika and salt.
  2. Decrease heat and cook at a low simmer for 20-30 minutes, until rice is cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, egg yolks, and flour together.
  4. Stir the yogurt mixture into the soup slowly. Chop up the mint leaves and add to the soup. Turn the heat down to low and cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Makes 2 meal-sized servings or 4 servings as a starter or side to another dish.

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Hodge-Podge Vegetable Soup

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What do you do when there are a bunch of vegetables that have been in your refrigerator and pantry for quite some time?  You make soup!  Ally loves soup, and I’ve learned that somehow, I come up with a great tasting soup.  The key is in getting the liquid portion to taste delicious as it will heighten the flavors of the other ingredients.

Umami, not only fun to say, but fun to cook with.  A little bit of an umami ingredient will go a long way in developing flavor in any dish.  Some of our favorites are soy sauce, fish sauce, cured olives, hard cheeses, bacon fat, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovies.  I’d like to try cooking with dashi as it’s always used by some of our favorite restaurants and chefs.

The stock we used in this soup, we actually made 100% from scratch.  Every Thanksgiving, we scoop up any and every bone from every house we go to.  A couple of years ago, we had a huge Virginia ham bone that made an amazingly rich stock.  This past Thanksgiving, we got the bones of turkeys, one that was fried and one that was baked, for our stock.  Turkey bone stock is quite easy to make, all you need is water and bones.  Cover the bones, boil, cool, skim the top, boil, cool, skim the top, and then strain (cheese cloth in a strainer works well).  We can our stock every year so it will last longer in the refrigerator.  That’s a whole big ordeal that I’m sure we’ll document this holiday season.

Anyways, we hope you enjoy this soup.  It probably goes a little bit better with cooler weather (think: fall day, with clouds and maybe a light drizzle) instead of the 90+ degree heat with humidity.

Hodge-Podge Vegetable Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 15 kalamata olives, pitted & sliced
  • 3 tbsp of liquid from olive jar*
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 32oz stock
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste
*Look at see if your kalamata olives are in a water-based or oil-based liquid. We strongly prefer water-based, and that’s what we used here.
Optional Substitutions: 
  • Soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce instead of fish sauce – need the umami!
  • A hotter pepper for the jalapeno – for more heat!
  • 2 tbsp of oil (we like safflower, or try coconut oil for a little twist) for the bacon – to keep it vegetarian!
  • Try a different herb or combos of herbs, like rosemary, oregano, or basil.
  • Use whatever type of stock you’d like 🙂
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare all of the vegetables. Peel the sweet potatoes & squash prior to cubing. Remove seeds from jalapeno, unless you want the extra spiciness. Slice bacon strips into lardons.
  2. In a large stockpot, cook bacon over medium heat until the fat has liquefied and bacon is starting to crisp. Add onions and cook until translucent (~5 minutes). Then add garlic and saute until fragrant. Next add jalapenos and red pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Now add butternut squash and sweet potatoes to the pot. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add stock, fish sauce, and herbs. You may need slightly more stock depending on your pot size/shape – you want the liquid to cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Adjust temperature to maintain a low simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add corn to the soup with 10 minutes left.
  5. Taste liquid and add salt & pepper as needed before serving. Don’t add the salt until the very end! (We didn’t use any.)
Makes ~8 servings.

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