So sick have I been that I haven’t eaten at all in about three days. That’s literally true, except for a bowl of ice cream that upset my stomach and a few bites of pasta that upset my stomach. And possibly it explains why I feel a bit weak in the knees?
Tried making open-faced melted cheese on stale bread this morning. Yech! That didn’t work…
Ooohkay, so it occurred to me that maybe some soup would be good. I could weave down to AJ’s, the local gourmet emporium, and pick up some of their prepared soups — they package up whatever is left over from their lunchtime soup & salad bar and sell it in individual containers.
But like all commercially prepared foodoids, it’s usually oversalted. The mouth already feels like a blowtorch has been running in there. The last thing I need is to pucker up with a megadose of salt.
Why not actually MAKE some soup? It’s pretty easy…
So I raided the cookbook and came up with three likely proposals:
- Broccoli with cheese. That looks pretty easy to make.
- Lentil soup with spinach. Also very easy, plus you can use frozen spinach. Plus I could add some of the chard that’s run amok out back because I haven’t been able to eat it.
- TFL’s corn chowder. A ridiculously easy dish: onion, a package of corn, a can of tomatoes, 2 cans of low-salt chicken broth, cilantro: mix together.
And it was off (unhappily) to AJ’s.
Got most of the ingredients. But…what I didn’t count on is that even low-sodium broth is NOT low-sodium…1/4 of your RDA a salt-free product does not make. And the only variants of that on AJ’s shelves came in cardboard boxes — which in my experience flavor the contents with…uck! Cardboardy-plasticky flavor.
Buying some chicken legs was out of the question: AJ’s is too tony to sell packages of chicken, and the price for junk chicken there is over $7 a pound. I want the soup, but I don’t want it that bad.
As usual, the city of Phoenix has all the streets around the ‘hood dug up, blocking me from getting into the corner Alberston’s easily. But then I realized I have a giant package of Costco chicken thighs and legs — boned and skinned, unfortunately, but if one just MUST make this recipe, there it is: one could spend half of one’s fevered afternoon cooking up chicken broth.
Back at the Funny Farm, decided on the lentil soup for today, because it requires the least amount of moving around to accomplish. It should be good:
- 1 pound (2 cups) lentils
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped onion
- olive oil
- salt to taste
- package of frozen spinach (or about 1/2 pound fresh)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- large dollop of butter, if desired
- 9 cups water
Lentils that you get in packages these days no longer need to be cooked an hour to soften them. So (contrary to the original, ancient recipe), you need only simmer these about 20 minutes before moving on with the recipe.
Wash the lentils in a sieve (probably don’t even need to do that these days, but it can’t hurt). Place them in a soup kettle and add the water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer until they’re softened. Meanwhile, cut up the onion, place it in a frying pan with a generous dollop of olive oil, and gently cook until softened and just starting to brown.
Place the cooked onions in with the softened lentils and allow to simmer about an hour (so says the recipe: I’m giving it a half-hour or 45 minutes). Then add the frozen spinach and cook until it defrosts and flavors mix — maybe another 10 or 15 minutes. I’m going to add the fresh chard at this point, too.
Add the lemon juice to the finished soup. Then serve it up in a bowls with a dollop of butter each.
I may add some cumin to this: it sounds a bit on the bland side. We shall see.**
**“Bland” is an understatement. I think…it’s hard to tell, because I still can’t taste anything. Did add cumin: bland. Added some Madras curry powder: that seemed to perk it up a bit.
What I really wanted was the corn chowder that I can’t get any decent chicken broth for. This is crazy easy to make, and you can add any kind of veggies to it. Therefore (think I), it ought to be good for what ails you.
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 large can tomatoes (I plan to use a box of Pomi tomatoes, which are far superior)
- 1 package frozen corn
- 2 cans low-salt chicken broth (good luck with that! If you make your own, 2 cans = about 4 cups)
- grated orange zest
- splash of orange juice, if you have it
- olive oil
In a large stew pot, cook the onion and garlic in olive oil over low heat until softened. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors.
Allow to cool. Spoon into a blender, a little at a time, and whirl to a smooth consistency.
You can serve this with chopped cilantro and a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream. It’s as good cold as it is hot.
I’ve not made the broccoli and cheese soup, but it looks restorative. Check this out:
- 1 package frozen broccoli or 1 bunch fresh broccoli, separated and tough ends removed
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 quart milk
- 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
Cook the broccoli in water until just tender.
In another pot, melt the butter, add the flour, and stir until smooth. After cooking for a few minutes, ad some of the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened. Add the cheese and cook over low heat for a few minutes until melted. Add the broccoli and heat well.
The recipe doesn’t say to use the whole quart of milk, but since that’s the only liquid and the chef thinks the soup serves four to six, I assume that’s what’s meant.
Try these out. I think the corn chowder, which I invented, is in the 30 Pounds cookbook; the others are from a mystery source that I photocopied and stuck in my recipe binder.
Image: Lentil soup, DepositPhotos, © spaxiax