Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NaBloPoMo: Breaking With Tradition, and Lentil Soup with Browned Butter

There were a lot of rules about food in my family as I was growing up.  The post about breakfast got me thinking.  Not only did we have rules about what would be for breakfast each day of the week (which I guess was intended to simplify things, but really, wouldn't cereal and fruit have been simpler?), but we had rules about what was for dinner on Sunday (a roast something or other), what time we would eat (dinner at 6 on the dot every night, and at 1:30 on Sundays), and what dinner would include (always at least four separate things on a plate: bread, and a carbohydrate, and one buttered vegetable, and meat).  During Lent, we ate fish on Fridays.

I look at the way my family eats now, and I wonder when I decided to break so completely with tradition.  We do tend to eat at the same time every night, for the sake of convenience.  Nothing different about Sundays, though.  I usually feed my kids some form of carbohydrate with the evening meal, but there isn't necessarily one for me or for my husband, though I will occasionally find him with a bowl of cereal in hand later in the evening if I haven't made one.  There is often no meat in sight.  There are often multiple vegetables involved, especially during CSA season.  There is often one bowl per person (forget the plate), with everything mixed together in a soup or salad or stir-fry, aka the "one pot wonder."

I usually spend Wednesday and Thursday nights--not the entire night, but a good chunk of time--planning for next weeks' meals, so I can shop on Friday for the week.  Our CSA pickup is also on Friday, so I can start cooking on the weekend.  I had to laugh at myself, looking at my initial list of possibilities this week, taking a guess at what our share might include, and imagining what my old-world European father would have thought, once he'd gotten past how careless my handwriting has gotten over the past year.  Just count the number of times the words "chard" and "kale" appear.  (I also had to laugh at myself: I tease my mother for making lists of clothing to take on a trip, but my sketch of the week's menu is far worse than hers ever was.)

I guess, in my house, there are lots of food rules, too.  Just different ones than the ones I grew up with.

The lentil soup I made just recently would never have appeared on our family table in my youth. At least, not without a lot of bread and a plate with three separate courses alongside it.

Do you have food rules, spoken or unspoken?  Do you meal-plan for the week or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook?

Coconut Lentil Soup
This is, of course, Heidi's recipe. I omitted the red pepper, added a shallot, increased the liquid (mine was just too thick).
2 T. extra-virgin coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 c. green lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 T. unsalted butter

1 T. Indian curry powder

2/3 c. coconut milk


fresh chives, snipped

Melt the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat.  Raise heat to medium, add onion and garlic and saute until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and lentils and simmer, covered, about 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender (Heidi recommends you start checking them earlier, at around 20 minutes).

While the soup is cooking,  melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, let it brown (you'll know you have it right when the foam goes away and you start to see small brown solid bits).  Stir in the spices and saute for another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

When the lentils are tender, remove the soup from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and salt.  Puree to your preferred consistence, and stir in half of the spiced butter.

Serve drizzled with the additional spiced butter and snipped chives.
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1 comment:

  1. This is bringing up all sorts of memories. We had lunch at 1 and dinner at 6.30 every day. Lunch was usually a sort of salad-y help-yourself affair, but dinner always, always had a carb, a vegetable, and meat or fish. The table was set beforehand with knives, forks, side plates (hardly ever used unless you needed to peel your boiled potato), dessert spoons, salt'n'pepper; the works.

    Now I try to make dinner at 6, but lunch is whenever we're hungry and whatever's in the fridge. Setting the table involves putting out two forks and a bottle of beer (we share it), and on rare ocassions knives as well. Dessert is rare. But I am still hidebound by the notion that I must provide a "proper dinner" for my husband, and as a result, and becuase he's a marathon runner and I am not, I eat way too many carbs.


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