Hi, Elizabeth's friend Karen, again. Today I was looking for a way to start using the massive bags of brown rice and lentils I purchased at the warehouse store last week. I found a recipe in one of my old cookbooks, Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet, from 1990. You can find the book on Amazon.com here. Of course, in typical fashion, I scrounged around the kitchen after I found the recipe, and could not quite come up with the exact same ingredients. But that never stops me.
So, Jane's original recipe is called Asian Lentil and Brown Rice Soup. I will tell you where I veered from the original recipe as I walk you through what I did.
First, I started with 10 cups of water, put it in a large soup pot to boil, and added 2 cups of lentils and 1/2 cup of rice. While that was cooking, I began to prepare the flavor portion of the soup. The lentils and rice cook for a whole 30 minutes at medium heat, somewhere between a rolling boil and a simmer.
I chopped up 4 large cloves of garlic into a nice mince, which is just basically really small pieces. I did not have fresh ginger root, so I grated about a teaspoon of my dried ginger root, which is a lovely spice to keep on hand. I buy mine online at The Spice House. Then I chopped a whole small yellow onion instead of the cup of chopped scallions which the recipe called for. I also chopped up a cup of celery, keeping the pieces about the same size as the onion. When I failed to find a green pepper in the fridge, I peeled and diced up a small beet to get about a 1/2 cup of diced beet, again similar in size to the other vegetables. Since I did not locate fresh parsley, either, I skipped this ingredient. I then set aside 1/4 cup of reduced sodium soy sauce and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar. I am cooking for a family of 5, and two of the kids do not tolerate heat in their food, so I substituted a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for the hot pepper oil or sauce.
After all of the prep, I heated up my large non stick skillet and added 1 tablespoon olive oil to saute the garlic, onion, celery and beets with just a pinch of the crushed red pepper. I sauteed these until they were beginning to get soft, and then added my ginger powder. If I were using the fresh ginger, it would have been added to the beginning of the saute process. My veggies did not produce any liquid while sauteed, so I added a splash of water a couple times to make sure I did not burn anything to the pan. Jane tends toward really low fat recipes in this book, and I tend to need to work around the lack of fat sometimes.
I let the veggies sit in the saute pan, turned off the heat, and poured the soy sauce and rice vinegar over the veggies while I waited for the lentils and rice to finish cooking for a full 30 minutes.
When the lentils and rice were done, I scraped the veggie mix into the soup pot. After stirring and tasting, I decided that the soup needed some type of kick, and sweet/sour was the direction I chose, so I searched the fridge for something sweet. I found peach preserves, placed about 1/3 cup of the preserves on a plate, stirred in about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and added it to the soup pot. I tasted again, and added a splash of rice vinegar. My 10 year old taste tester helped me sample, and declared it better than the usual lentils.