Red Lentil Soup with Potato and Spinach…

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I’ve posted a recipe for this before (a few times no doubt) but each time is slightly different. This soup is so easy to make but at the same time bursting with flavor and super-nutritious. What’s different about this version is I used a sort of slow-cooked sofrito to bring out the flavors of the vegetables and spices. And a sofrito is really as simple as that…cooking vegetables and spices very slowly until they caramelize, the liquid evaporates, and the result is an intense flavorful paste. Anyhow, here it is…

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach

Makes about 2 quarts

4 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons whole cumin seed

2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 (15 oz. Can) diced tomatoes

2 cups red lentils

8 cups chicken broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups (4-6 ounces) fresh spinach, chopped

¼ cup lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper; saute slowly until caramelized. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, hot pepper, and salt; cook another minute or two. Add the tomatoes, and cook them until the juice reduces and everything forms a sort of paste.

Add the lentils and broth; bring to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, then add the potatoes and simmer another 30 minutes or until the soup thickens and the lentils become very soft. Stir in the spinach and cook another 5 minutes. If it becomes too thick, add additional broth or a little water. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the soup from the heat.

Urban Simplicity.

Shellfish Chowder!

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Super rich and creamy and chock full of shellfish, if you like seafood this is a recipe for you. This is just a basic recipe…change seafood and ingredients that you like. If you’d like additional chowder (and gumbo) recipes, along with its background, history, and lore, follow this link to an article I wrote some years ago.

Seafood Chowder

Makes 10-12 cups

2 lobster tails

1 pound shrimp

2 dozen mussels

2 dozen small clams

4 cups water

2 cups white wine


6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

½ cup flour

4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup sherry

1 cup heavy cream

Combine the shellfish, water, and wine in a pot just large enough to contain it. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook the shellfish for about 15 minutes. Strain the shellfish from the broth, reserving both separately. When the seafood is cool enough to handle, remove it from their shells, discard the shells, and dice the seafood as needed.

Heat the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook the vegetables for a couple minutes then add flour and cook another couple minutes while stirring. Next stir in the tomato paste, paprika, and kosher salt; stirring it to blend with the flour mixture. Add the reserved broth, and using a wire whisk, mix it until smooth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook the soup for about 5 minutes, then add the cooked seafood to the pot along with the sherry and cream. Simmer the chowder for another 5 minutes before serving.

Asparagus and Roquefort Soup (Mhm, that’s right)

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This is so easy to make and so delicious that I hope you try it. And asparagus is just coming into seasons. And before you ask, or at least wonder to yourself, here’s how you can alter it to a diet specific recipe…Yes you can use milk instead of cream but it will not be as rich; simply add it at the end. If you are lactose intolerant leave out the dairy completely (use oil instead of butter in the beginning) or use soy milk. To make it vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. To make it vegan, do the same but omit the dairy or replace it with soy milk. If you have a gluten allergy omit the flour and thicken the soup with cornstarch at the end of simmering.

Cream of Asparagus and Roquefort Soup

Makes about 4 cups

1 pound asparagus

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 small onion, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort Cheese

Trim the asparagus of their fibrous ends and slice the remaining portion into 1/2 inch lengths; reserve the asparagus tips separately to use as a garnish in the soup. Heat the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in the flour, lower the heat, and cook the flour for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Add the sliced asparagus (not the tips), salt, thyme and pepper; sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and return to high heat. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook the soup for 10 minutes, skimming as necessary. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add the reserved asparagus tips and bring it to a simmer and stir in the Roquefort cheese. Serve while hot.

Urban Simplicity.

Vegetable Broth!

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I’ve been experimenting with vegetable broth recipes for a while now, for days when I choose to not eat meat, which has been becoming more and more frequent. This is not meant to be a vegetarian substitute or imitation of a meat-based broth because nothing can substitute the richness of a well made chicken or beef broth. But it is meant to be a replacement, and a really delicious one at that. The key to it’s full flavor is using a lot of vegetables in relation to water, slow simmering, and also the cooking and browning of the onions and carrots which brings out their natural sweetness.

And when making traditional—or should I say animal based—broths, which are usually made with bones and unusable scraps, when the broth is strained the solids are most often discarded. But in the case of this vegetable broth this would seem a waste on many levels. The remaining solids can be added to a soup, pasta dish, mashed and eaten as a side dish, or mashed and mixed with a bit of flour and a few eggs for burgers or patties (or even mixed into your dog’s food). There really are plenty of options. And the finished broth can then, of course, be used in any recipe that calls for stock or broth. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this as it is simple to make and really flavorful. The recipe can be multiplied or divided, and the finished broth can be portioned and frozen as well.

Vegetable Broth 

Makes 3-4 quarts

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium onions, peeled and diced

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small head celery, diced

8 plum tomatoes, quartered

24 medium mushrooms, sliced

4 quarts cold water

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauce pan, then add the onions and carrots. Saute the onions and carrots for about 5 minutes, or until the begin to brown, then add the garlic and cook them for another minute or two. Then add the celery, tomatoes, and mushrooms; stir to combine. Then stir in the cold water, along with the sea salt, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Bring the broth to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer the broth—without stirring—for 1-to-2 hours. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the vegetables with a ladle or the back of a large spoon to extract as much broth as possible. Discard the solids or incorporate them into another recipe.


Urban Simplicity.