Some days I’m completely uninspired to cook at home. I scurry through the house around dinner time, assembling healthy, but quick meals for the girls. Summer-time dinners are easy and fun, and often do not require much preparation.
With the garden producing green beans, long beans and shiso in abundance, I am able to offer lightning fast meals.
In the past week, the girls had a variety of classic summer Japanese dishes such as:
Zarusoba, or chilled, drained, soba noodles, served with a dipping dashi based sauce, topped with chopped scallions, julienned shiso and grated ginger.
Hiyayakko, or chilled and drained medium-firm tofu cubes, served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, garnished with chopped scallions, thinly sliced shiso, grated ginger, katsuobushi and sesame seeds
Blanched okra, cut into 1/4 inch slices, with ponzu sauce
Blanched string beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, served with soy sauce and katsuobushi
Tamago dofu, or literally “egg tofu” – conventional, and store-bought – but one of my all-time favorites as a child. It’s essentially, savory egg custard, served cold, with a dashi “soup”
Fresh tomatoes with a bit of salt (or none)
Yet, after a few continuous days of light, summer eating, I started craving a hearty, belly-warming soup.
Lentil soup fit the bill.
Into a large pot, I brought 6 cups of water, and 2 cups of chicken stock to boil.
Into the pot (in order) went the following:
2 cups dry lentils – picked over, rinsed, and drained
2 onions, quartered, and cut into bite sized pieces
3 medium potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 carrots, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbs of powdered shiitake
Two large handfuls of string beans – these are from the garden, so I’m not sure how much they weigh. I cleaned them, and cut them into inch-long pieces, de-stringing some of the larger beans. I have a mixture of home-grown long-beans and regular string beans in this soup.
I simmered this over medium heat until the lentils plumped up, and became tender (about 30 – 40 minutes). I seasoned with a little sea salt, pepper, as well as a tablespoon of soy sauce. Sometimes I season with a drizzle of olive oil and salt, or even, a good amount of sriracha sauce.
I often serve poached eggs with whole wheat toast for the girls’ breakfast, and the girls love their “dip-dip” eggs. For this week, I served the poached egg over the lentil soup, and allowed them to sprinkle just a little sea-salt (on their own) over the egg. They then carefully broke open the yolks, and mixed it into their soup, and enjoyed their “dip-dip” egg soup.
“Jiji, Baba, we had LENZU-MAME (lens-shaped, Japanese name for lentils) soup today!” they announced on skype.
“Mame-mame!” the little one happily added.