Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tatiana: lentils > sweet potatoes

Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup

It's a truth universally acknowledged (er, by me and most people who know me) that I love lentils. I eat them all the time, sometimes in strange, weird combinations. I could subsist pretty happily for weeks on lentils and cheerios. And don’t pretend like you cringed at that combo. Delicious!

On the other hand, I’m sort of meh about sweet potatoes, except in fry form. I realize people write odes to them, but I’m just not a big potato person in general. Gorgeous color, antioxidants blah blah blah – sure. I could take them or leave them, and was in fact tempted to leave them off this recipe altogether. But I wanted to make the soup as Keller intended, so in went 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes

This recipe is pretty substantial. As I chopped the vegetables, I wondered whether I would have soup to last me all Fall (signs point to yes - behold my giant stockpot):

I’d been forewarned after other Bearded Ladies had trouble with the sweet potato chop. Raku's analogy

sweet potatoes : chop


the savage detectives : enjoy

made me laugh and laugh because seriously, how much did that book suck? Answer: SO MUCH.

Anyway, this is why I was especially psyched to come across these:

Does this count as semi-homemade?

Recipe notes:

  • Both sachets and parchment lids are pretty inspired ideas! Thomas Keller really knows his stuff. I’ll definitely use both again. Going into this, I didn’t even know to look for cheesecloth in the baking supplies aisle. Here’s Larry modeling my first (practice) parchment lid:

  • Bacon is awesome. I actually substituted non-slab bacon, which as it's less thick needed much less time on the stove (it got crispy way before the allotted time)
  • I substituted low sodium chicken broth for the chicken stock. This was mostly because I didn’t feel like making stock and because I came across the broth first at the store. It worked well, but I ended up adding extra salt, ha. I also used about a cup more broth than the recipe called for, because I wanted the soup to be more liquidy than stewy.
  • Spanish pardina lentils were harder to find and more expensive than my regular green lentils, but were a nice change of pace. They're tinier, don't get mushy at all, and taste kind of nutty. I loved them.
  • Cooking the bacon first (so that you can use the rendered fat for the soup base) is necessary but dangerous – it’s the perfect ready snack while the soup simmers endlessly. Even though I slightly overcrisped it, I had to stop myself midsnack multiple times so that there’d be some left for the soup.

The finished product (I completely forgot to buy cilantro for garnish):

This soup and some fresh crusty bread made really satisfying cold-day meal. I will definitely make it again, though (you guessed it) I'll leave out the potatoes next time.

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