Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Escarole and Lentil Soup

The weather is crazy! It's well into Fall, yet some days have been so hot and so humid. Inevitably, soup weather is coming though! Some of the farmers have less at the market because their farms are in the Finger Lakes region and they have experienced a couple of mild frosts; still no killing frost, though. My houseplants are still in the backyard which is a first for this late in October. Some farmers are still waiting for their cold weather crops to mature---for instance to be able to offer escarole. One farmer did have escarole this week and since it was a gigantic head, it was therefore destined for my soup pot.

I served the soup made of escarole, potatoes and lentils with a salad of arugula, roasted beets, pineapple apples, Seckel pears, raisins, walnuts, and cubes of baked tofu. Here's my recipe for the soup.

1 lb. lentils
8 c. water
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
6 or so small potatoes or 2 large cut into small cubes
2 lbs escarole
1 cup leftover tomato sauce or a 15 oz can of cubed or crushed tomatoes
3 hot peppers, finely diced, optional

Wash and sort lentils. Add to water in large pan. Cover and bring to boil, lower heat. Simmer 1 hour, until almost all liquid has been absorbed. Add the parsley.

While the lentils are cooking, sauté the onion, half the garlic, carrots, potatoes and celery in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining 4 cups of water and the tomato sauce. Cook until the potatoes are firm-tender. Add the lentils and whatever liquid is left with them.

Sauté the remaining garlic and the finely diced hot pepper in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Trim the escarole removing hard and tough leaves. Wash them thoroughly in cold water to remove any soil. Roughly chop the leaves. (Here my husband would ask something like "Why is it necessary to speak to them harshly?") Add the escarole leaves with whatever water is clinging to them to the sautéed garlic and peppers. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until escarole is tender.

Add escarole and the liquid to the lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve it with salad, like I did, and perhaps some crusty bread. Warm up your belly.

xx Mama and Molly

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