Tag Archives: The Guardian

Lentils: Ezo Gelin Soup

When people see “lentil”, probably the first thought for most of us is lentil soup. There are dozens of types of lentil soups, one of which I’ll share with you today.  Lentils are one of my favorite ingredients because they are healthy, inexpensive (at least for most of them) and very nutritious. For all of my adult life, we have always had lentils in our pantry. In the beginning of our life together, my husband and I went through some very lean years. Frugality became and remained a cornerstone of our life. Eating lentils provided us with good nutrition at an affordable price. We could always eat lentil soup and enjoy the meal. In many cultures, particularly those of the Middle East, there are countless lentil soups.  In subsequent posts, I plan to share some other really terrific lentil recipes including additional lentil burgers (see my Mushroom Lentil Burgers that taste great post from 2016) https://honeyandyogurt.com/2016/04/12/mushroom-lentil-burgers-that-taste-great) as well as lentil taco filling, lentil salads, lentil curry and stews.

Lentils are also a mainstay of plant-based eating, which is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. Plant based eating can be very healthy as well as very tasty.  Some reports indicate it can actually make a positive difference in saving our planet. See the recent articles in The Guardian for more on that. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/16/new-plant-focused-diet-would-transform-planets-future-say-scientists; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

For today, however, I want to share with you my recipe for Ezo Gelin Soup.

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/3 c. rice
  • 1 big spoonful tomato paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 7 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 T. dried mint
  • red pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion. Stir in the tomato paste and add the stock/water; the lentils, rice, and salt.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let simmer until the lentils and rice are tender, probably about thirty minutes. If using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, follow the directions with your pot (using the pressure cooking feature) and this part will be finished in probably 10 minutes. At this point, if you want a very smooth soup, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Add in the lemon juice and garlic and let simmer a few minutes more. Just before serving, in a small pan melt the butter until sizzling, stir in the dried mint and red pepper and let fry just half a minute before stirring the butter/mint/pepper mixture into the soup. Stir well and serve.  Enjoy

This is such a delicious soup. (This recipe and others can be found in my cookbook, Turkish Family Favorites . (https://www.amazon.com/Turkish-Family-Favorites-Helen-Akinc/dp/1519376979)

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Fan of tofu? Not so much? Try baking or grilling it…

Tofu is one of the mainstay ingredients of a plant-based diet. If you haven’t seen the recent piece in The Guardian, take a few minutes to read it. Here’s the link. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/16/new-plant-focused-diet-would-transform-planets-future-say-scientists.

Regardless of whether you embrace the idea that a plant based diet will save the planet (although it seems plausible to me), reducing meat and focusing more on a plant based diet seems to have some health benefits. ( https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/plant-based-diet-for-heart-health). Certainly, as 2019 begins, many of us are evaluating our lives and trying to make positive changes to improve our health and well-being. Incorporating tofu into your diet can give you some variety and flexibility as well as nutrition.

Not everyone likes the smooth, silky gooshiness of silken tofu, although it is great in some types of custardy desserts. Try Williams-Sonoma’s recipe for Very Chocolate Mousse, for example (https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/very-chocolate-mousse.html).  I made that a few years ago for company and no one knew that tofu was a main ingredient of the mousse until I told them.

But if you want to try something like tofu kebabs or Asian Inspired Wraps (found on Meatless Monday, contributed by Liz of This and That) (https://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/asian-tofu-wraps/) three things are key for success:

  1. Buy the right kind of tofu (has to be extra firm if at all possible)
  2. You must press it (not difficult, just takes a little time)
  3. You must season it before and during cooking.

Buying the right kind of tofu should not be difficult as groceries have all sorts of tofu now.

Pressing the tofu is easy. Most instructions encourage the use of wads of paper towels, a couple of cutting boards, and some sort of weight. I try not to use too many paper towels so I take maybe four sheets of paper towel, two for the top and two for the bottom. Lay a cutting board on a counter or table. Take some newspaper that you’ve already read and put say one section of the paper on top of the cutting board. Then fold the two sheets of paper towels in quarters and place on top of the paper. Next comes the tofu, another two sheets of folded paper towels, the second cutting board, and then some sort of weight. I used a metal canister full of flour. Set the timer for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Be sure to check on the tofu press because unless the arrangement is perfectly balanced,  the tofu can be pressed unevenly which may result in the weight sliding off the cutting board. I like to use newspapers on the bottom because they are absorbent and keep the tofu juice from dripping all over the counter or even on to the floor. Just be sure to use paper towels between the tofu and the old newspapers for cleanliness and hygiene.

Season the tofu you plan to grill or roast or bake after  it is pressed and after you slice or cube it. Assuming you’ve pressed the tofu well, and depending exactly on how you cook it, you usually wind up with a very flavorful result of tofu pieces with crunchy edges and creamy flavorful insides. Delicious.

In a subsequent post, I will try to post my friend Rashmi’s recipe for Tofu kebabs. Do try the Asian Tofu Wraps; they are quite good. Expand your horizons! Try tofu!