Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tip of the Week: Soup

Now that the weather is frosty, comfort food is on the menu! Soup is always a hit, but the canned stuff just doesn't satisfy like homemade. Try buying beans, lentils, and other grains in their uncooked form to use in home-cooked soups. If you are anything like me, you forget to soak your beans the night before. No problem! Try the quick-soak method. Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the beans and return to a boi for 2 min. Then remove from heat and let them sit for 1 hour. Rinse, drain and then you have beans that are ready to cook with all the fixings. Using products in their most natural form is not only more healthful, but it is also more cost efficient which is a wonderful bonus during these economic times. You can feed your family healthy delicious meals AND save a little money for a rainy day! Here is one of my families favorite soups.

Spicy Sausage and Lentil Soup

2 C. lentils or 10 bean mix that is heavy on lentils
1/2lb to 1 lb of spicy italian sausage(pork or turkey)depending on how much meat you like
2 stalks of celery diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 large bunch of spinach OR 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced small
6 cans of chicken broth or stock(if you have homemade, even better)
2 bay leaves
1/3 C. olive oil
Grated parmigiano reggiano to taste
salt and pepper to taste

After beans/lentils are rinsed and drained, add back to a large pot and add in chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. In a frying pan, add olive oil and heat until almost smoking. Add in the celery, onions, carrots and garlic and saute until tender. Add to the stock pot and then add sausage to the frying pan. Brown and crumble. Drain off excess fat and then add to pot. Add in bay leaves and allow to simmer about 2 hours. Then if you are using potatoes, add them in. Continue cooking until lentils and potatoes are tender. About 10 min before done, add in the bunch of
fresh trimmed spinach to wilt(if you are using it). Salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve topped with grated cheese! Serves many.

Note: if your family is small like mine, eat half and freeze half for another meal when you don't have time to cook from scratch!

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