The weather is absolutely gorgeous – fall air crisping my nose, the sun bringing late-year warmth to the face… I was up and running this morning, doing my errands before noon. I stopped at my favorite organic farm for fresh produce, poultry, and the week’s worth of dairy (Natural by Nature milk and Seven Star Farm Yogurt). Once the little one went down for a nap, I decided to start cooking for the week. It’s a nice block of time I try to focus on errands, chores, and some bonding time with my older daughter, away from the chaos and bustle of time constraints during the week.
I washed a bunch of organic beets (3), and cut off the greens at the base of the beet root. I set these aside to cook separately.
In the interim, I scrubbed the surface of the beets, and put them into a Corningware large enough to accommodate all of them. My husband had been roasting pumpkin seeds at 375 degrees, so my luck – the oven was pre-heated. I added about a half cup of water – just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and put on a glass lid. I then put the beets into the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork.
I then set the beets aside to cool, as the skins slip off with bare hands once you can handle them.
Separately, I started getting ready to make a Chock-full-o vegetable lentil soup. My older daughter pulled up her stool along the counter, and announced, she was ready to help. Here’s what went into the soup:
1 lbs organic Green Lentils (Neshaminy Valley)
One carton Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range chicken stock (can be substituted with vegetable stock)
3 organic carrot stalks, scrubbed, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 organic celery stalks, scrubbed, peeled if necessary, also cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 organic medium-sized onions, peeled, washed, and cut into wedges, and then further into 1/4 inch pieces
6 organic medium-sized organic potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces, then put into a pan with water to allow to soak. My mother always told me to do this to remove the excess starch from the surface of the potatoes.
20 ozs filtered water
Salt, pepper to taste
My daughter pulled up her handy stool next to the counter, and helped me put all the chopped vegetables into the stock pot. She also helped adding the broth – we learned NOT to pour from high above to ensure we don’t splash the broth all over the kitchen floor.
I set the pot on high heat to allow the stock to come to a boil, and then lowered to medium heat. I rinsed the lentil with water, picking through them for any small rocks or debris, and then put them in a colander to train.
After ten minutes at medium heat, I added the lentils, stirred the soup with a wooden spoon, and lowered the heat to low. I then put the lid on the pot.
The timer was set for an hour at low heat, and I stopped by the stove occasionally to stir the soup to prevent the soup from burning. I added water as needed to ensure the soup didn’t get too thick.
I also pulled out the beets, which smelled deliciously earthy, and set them aside to cool.
The little one woke from her nap just as the soup finished cooking. The lentils were plump, and the vegetables soft, but had not completely lost their shape.
I ladled the soups into their soup bowls, added a pinch of sea salt for taste, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
They ate the soup slowly, and blew on each teaspoon carefully – the little one’s cheeks puffing out like a trumpet blower’s, and the older one blowing a little more delicately – but blowing just enough to cool the spoon off, but not creating a lentil blizzard.
I enjoyed my lentil soup – with a little salt and a lot of Sriracha sauce. I seem to be on a spicy kick these days – must be the weather!
The beets, once cool enough to handle with my hands, were rinsed under cool water, and the skins slipped off. They are then used during the week in my daughter’s lunches, or for a dinner side.