Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Crock Pot Lentil Soup

So not all recipes turn out how they are supposed to…tonight’s kitchen experiment is a great example. I got the inspiration from a cook book and modified some minor things…at least I thought they were minor. It turns out that maybe brown lentils (as suggested by the recipe) and little green lentils (as I used) may not cook the same way.

The taste of the soup was great but the lentils stayed chewy, even after pouring the content of the crock pot into a pot to simmer on the stove for an additional 35 minutes. So I will have to do some reading about the different types of lentils, because they may not be used interchangeably as I thought. I will definitely try this recipe again with brown lentils.

Ingredients (2-3 servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 large carrot (I love using rainbow carrots)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
5 cups vegetable stock (2 1/2 veggie bouillon cube and 5 cups water)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Preparation:
1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Stir occassionally.

2. Meanwhile pick over the lentils and rinse them. An easy way to pick over the lentils is to spread them out on raised baking sheet (see picture). You do not want to miss this step. Check for anything that is not a lentil (e.g., tiny rocks) and damaged lentils. After picking over the lentils, make sure to rinse them. If they are too small for your strainer, place them in a bowl. Gently fill bowl with water and carefully drain the water. REpeat 2 or 3 times.

3. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 3.5 quart crock pot, add the lentils, water, veggie bouillon cubes, and soy sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Trouble shooting: The soup was still very “soupy” and the lentils were still harder than expected after 7 hours. So I increased the temperature to high for the last hour, with not much success. I ended up pouring the Crock pot content in a large pot and simmered the soup for an additional 35 minutes on medium heat on the stove. The soup thickened a lot, but the lentils were still not as soft as I thought they should be.

Based on the package instructions, the lentils should be simmered for 35-40 minutes. Since I had never cooked with little green lentils before, I will now have to read up on the different types of lentils and their corresponding characteristics.

Lentil soup_6_small

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Black Bean Soup that Boasts with Flavor

I have noticed lately that barely any of the canned soups that I used to like can measure up with the taste of making home-made soups. The inspiration for this soup recipe came from a slow cooker cook book we got for Christmas last year.

The soup is easy to make and is filled not only with lots of flavor but also lots of healthy ingredients.

Ingredients (2-3 servings):
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and chopped
½ small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced (or pressed with garlic press)
1 (14-ounce) can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can organic diced tomatoes, left undrained
2 cups vegetable stock (2 cups water and 1 veggie bouillon cube), less if thicker consistency desired
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation:
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 3.5-quart Crock pot, add the beans, tomatoes, and spices. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
3. Remove and discard the bay leaf and taste to adjust the seasonings. To thicken, purée at least 2 cups or up to one half of the soup solids with an immersion blender right in the cooker, or ladle into a regular blender or food processor and return to the cooker. (Puréeing some of the solids gives the soup added flavor and a creamier texture.)
4. Serve hot. Optional: Sprinkle with shredded cheese (suggestion: Mexican cheese mix).

Hearty meal:
* Beans are a great meat alternative. They are high in proteins, while being low in fat and high in fiber.

Note: If you prefer a thicker soup, you may try to use less vegetable broth.
Reheats well the next day.

Adapted from: Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Roberson


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Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

Thanksgiving is always an interesting holiday for vegetarians. Usually people serve turkey, ham, and gravy…all food items that are not vegetarian-friendly. Well, Hans’ family isn’t different. So in order to have “vegetarian-proof” food, a relative called a couple weeks ago and asked whether we could bring something we would like to eat. She mentioned that she was interested in the type of food we eat…I wish I could remember the exact phrasing she used…

Well, we decided we were gonna make Crock Pot Tortilla soup, which actually comes pretty close to Dutch Oven Tortilla Soup, and is soooooooooooooooo much better than Tortilla Soup made on the stove.

So we made Crock Pot Tortilla Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops https://ourfunstuff.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/moist-pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies/, and German Apple Crisp https://ourfunstuff.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/german-apple-crisp-apfelkuchen/ for Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Ingredients (3-4 servings, or more if used as appetizer)
½ onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ jalapeno pepper, minced
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 can organic tomatoes
1 can organic mixed beans (Whole Foods had salad beans which included kidney, pinto, and garbanzo beans)
2 rainbow carrots, sliced
3-4 fingerling potatoes, cubed
½ green pepper, cubed
1/3 cup multicolored quinoa
1 cup water
1 veggie bouillon cube
Taco seasoning https://ourfunstuff.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/seven-layer-dip/
Cayenne pepper to taste

Preparation:
1. Saute onion in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno pepper and continue sauteing until onion is translucent.
2. Add all ingredients to the crock pot (3.5 quarts). We added the tomatoes and beans first, including the water. Add all the other ingredients, except spices. Add the onion mixture.
3. Set crock pot to cook for 4 hours at high or for 8 hours at low. A few minutes before it is finished cooking add the taco seasoning and a dash of cayenne pepper to taste.
4. Serve with cheese sprinkled on it and cheese quesadilla. Pretty traditional Thanksgiving meal, don’t you agree?! Well, it just makes for a very yummy and delicious meal. Enjoy!

Tortilla soup is super delicious with cheese quesadillas.

Tortilla soup is super delicious with cheese quesadillas.

Note: Can easily be used as appetizer for Mexican-style pot-luck. =)


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Crock Pot Quinoa & Tomatillo Soup

Tomatillo month continues: After thinking about it for a long time, we finally bought a crock pot (3.5 quarts). It is only fitting that our first recipe included quinoa as well as tomatillos. It’s a simple and delicious recipe that is filled with lots of healthy and vegan-friendly protein. Enjoy =)

Ingredients (3-4 servings):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
8 tomatillos, chopped in 1/4 inch pieces (about 2 cups chopped tomatillo)
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried parsley (alternatively, you can use dried cilantro)
1 teaspoon dried Mexican Oregano (optional, we did not have it available)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cans (15-ounce) kidney beans (or black beans), rinsed well
1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes with juice
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock, but you could use canned vegetable or chicken broth)
1/3 cup multicolored quinoa (available at Trader Joe’s)

Instructions:
1. Chop onions and tomatillos into pieces about 1/4 inch. Heat olive oil in large frying pan, then saute onions and tomatillos about 5 minutes, then add garlic, dried parsley and cumin and saute 1-2 minutes more.
2. While the vegetables are sauteing, rinse the beans thoroughly.
3. Put tomatillo-onion mixture into 3.5 quart crock pot. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, vegetable broth, and quinoa. Cook on high for 4 hours (This could also be cooked on low for 8 hours.) Slow cookers can vary, so check and adjust the cooking time according to how hot your crock pot gets.)

Note: Recipe was inspired by http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2008/10/crockpot-recipe-for-vegetarian-black.html