02/21/2014 by syrbal-labrys
I’ve been making a lot of soup this year. It has been a pretty normal Nor’west Winter, but I feel colder than usual for some reason. So, a couple quick recipes! One with meat, one without!
The first came from one of those bargain table cookbooks — 400 Soups. Well, 400 attempts at soup, ok? It has lovely pictures and great STARTING ideas, but some of the recipes try too hard, others mangle a simple soup with not one or two tricky techniques — but with three or four. That isn’t too many cooks, but too much cooking! So, I altered and simplified and CORRECTED this soup and feel no guilt offering it to you as my own!
Meatball Florentine Lemon Soup
1 extra large sweet onion, very very finely minced — and in two piles.
3 T ghee (ok, or vegetable oil or butter)
1 tsp curry powder of your choice
1 tsp corriander, ground
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mild red chile, powdered
1 c dry red lentils
1 qt beef broth (and 2 c water)
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 large egg
1/4 c lemon juice
4 T chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lb fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Take half the minced onions and brown them in the ghee, add the spices. Add the red lentils and broth and let simmer for about 40 minutes. While this simmers, mix the other pile of finely minced onions into the ground lamb. Now beat in the egg. (The recipe said making balls of the onion and lamb alone would suffice — nonsense, they would fall apart!) This will give you a very soft meat ‘batter’ — if you like, add a few tablespoons of bread crumbs, I did not.
When the lentils are tender in the broth, decide if it looks too thick…you may want to add a cup or two of water at this point. When it is brought to a gentle boil, take two teaspoons and shape little oval ‘dumplings’ of the meat mixture. Gently slide them into the soup. Let them simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes on low heat, they are delicate and a hard boil would tear them apart. Add the chopped cilantro and spinach and return to heat just long enough to gently cook the greens. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice and serve. (The original recipe wanted the spinach cooked 20 minutes and then a flour roux added to thicken the soup — this sounded disgusting and slimy to me!)
The very delicate meat dumplings melt in your mouth, the lemon compliments the spinach and the lentils add a protein punch!
The second soup comes from a very beautiful cookbook entitled “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” — it is full of delights for the mouth! I had no need to alter the delicious recipe; but I cheated a bit on technique — my haven has no oven and I didn’t want to troop into the Big House to use my oven there! (And ok, I cheated on quantities a bit cause I wanted MORE chickpeas for MORE lysine! I’m fearing a shingles re-otbreak presently!)
Watercress & Chickpea Soup with Rose Water & Ras El Hanout
Dice 2 medium carrots in 3/4″ dice…ut in pan with 1 T olive oil and & 2 tsp ras el hanout spice* — this is put to roast in a 425 degree oven. I put it in my old metal panned slow cooker on high instead —heat a whole oven for 2 carrots? After about 15 min. in the oven or 20 in the slow cooker…add abut 2/3 c of canned, drained chickpeas and stir — cook another 10-15 minutes till carrots are tender, but not mushy.
Meanwhile, cook 1 medium sliced onion and 2 T minced gingerroot in 2 T olive oil or ghee in a large saucepan. When the onion is golden tender, add more chickpeas — a can and a third is what I used. The recipe called for 1 1/2 c canned —this seems a bit scrawny to me, once liquid is drained, so I used two 14 oz cans. Add 2 1/2 c vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Stir in 7 oz chopped watercress and 3 oz chopped fresh spinach. Cook only till the greens are well wilted.
Add 1 tsp rose water and 1 – 2 tsp superfine sugar (I used one of honey instead. Oh, and I cheated and added a 1/2 tsp of the intensely lemon flavored salt paste from my jar of salt-preserved lemons.)
To serve, ladle into bowls (4 or so), top with the roasted, spiced carrots and chickpeas. And if you like, provide a dollop of Greek yogurt to top — I also think a thick slice of soft goat cheese would be delicious. I served it with warm na’an bread!
Note: my one mistake? I didn’t cut all the long stems off the cress and spinach. Even pureed, there was a hint of fiber-strings here and there; it tasted lovely, but the texture will be refined next time!
*Ras el Hanout is a Mid-Eastern spice blend that I am seeing even in grocery stores of a most ordinary variety now. I have been making my own for ages, it varies year to year with whether I can get or find my favorite ingredients. Mine includes:
dried rose buds
dried rowan(ash) berries
I toast mine lightly while spices are whole (exept nutmeg) then grind it and store it. Some varieties included aphrodisiacs like Spanish fly — I content myself with rose buds and rowan berries! I mix in similar quantities and by smell.