Friday, November 14, 2008

A Bowl of Repentance

Bless me, Dr. Agatston, for I have sinned. It's been several days since I've been on your South Beach Diet ... and I'm not the least bit sorry about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures - and those desperate measures included (but are not limited to) the following: a slice of Mama Diva's birthday cake, some really excellent New Haven pizza, the afore mentioned cheesesteak ... and two really stiff scotches last night.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will add that the above listed sins gained me a grand total of one pound. Not bad for a week's worth of indulgence. And, frankly, that pound concerns me not at all. A good work-out today will take care of it and one "off" week does not negate the other 29 pounds I've lost.

Confession is good for the soul, or so they tell me, and so is soup ... this much I know is true. For my penance I prepared a healthy, Beachy, lentil soup on Wednesday night and it was spectacular. Given the multitude of white carb sins over the past few days, I opted to use some pearl barley in place of pasta and I'm delighted with the results. Barley is rich in Manganese, Selenium, Phosphorus, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folate and Potassium. Its also a good source of both fiber and protein. And, you can't beat the texture - barley's chewy bite is the perfect compliment to the soup-softened lentils. What a lovely combination!

Now, on to the recipe. This one is of the "pinch and dash" variety; meaning I don't measure any of the seasonings. I open my massive spice cabinet and start adding anything and everything that sounds good to me. Sometimes its a pinch of cinnamon to give the soup some Middle Eastern flair; other times I'll add a dash of curry powder or a pinch of celery salt and some cayenne pepper. Sometimes all of the above. I'll post the recipe and note for the record that you should feel free to season the soup as you like. Pinch and dash to your heart's content and you'll be rewarded with a savory, flavorful bowl of repentance!

Lentil and Barley Soup:

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • one 14.5 oz. can of Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups of small, green French Lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 5 cups of reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cups of non-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • the leaves from 5 or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a healthy dash of good quality curry powder
  • a shake of celery salt
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of pearl barley, cooked according to package directions, drained and reserved
  • some chopped fresh parsley and some grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat the oil in a large, heavy stock pot over medium high heat and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and saute the vegetable until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, with their juices, and allow them to cook down for a bit, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or so. Add the lentils, and saute, stirring to coat for about a minute. Add the vegetable and chicken broths and stir well to combine. Add the thyme leaves, a pinch of cinnamon, dash of curry powder, a shake of celery salt and a handful of chopped parsley. Stir to combine, raise the heat to high and bring the soup to the boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat immediately, cover, and allow the soup to simmer until the lentils are tender - about 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, cook the barley according to package directions, drain and reserve.

Test the soup after 20 minutes of simmering to be sure that the lentils have cooked. Add in the red wine vinegar and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning - adding more salt and pepper, or any of the above listed spices, as desired.

To serve: place some cooked barley in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle the finished soup onto the barley. Garnish with some chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, serve and enjoy!

As written, this recipe will serve an army - or several generations of your family at a minimum. Make the soup, eat some, save some for lunch the next day, then freeze the rest for later use. You can add the remaining cooked barley to the cooled soup as desired before you freeze. Lastly, feel free make this soup vegetarian by using 10 cups of vegetable broth and omitting the chicken. I happen to like the combination of the two, but your mileage may vary, of course.

My repentance is now complete and I'm looking forward to my lunch of left-over soup today. I'm back in business and back on The Beach! Stay tuned for a post on knife-sharpening tips, courtesy of Papa Diva, next week - as well as some holiday tips for Thanksgiving. We've got a lot of catching up to do here!

Bon appetite!


HektikLyfe said...

I just had lentil soup yesterday. I like it with saltines. Low budget but tasty.

As for diets...I do pretty well during the week. My weekends though belong to In-N-Out.

Ski Goddess said...

You've lost 29 pounds!?!?!? I won't recognize you when I see you. You won't recognize me either (although I'll give you a clue that those pounds are not "at large"). Congrats.

And, yes, I've formally adopted the moniker.

Deb said...

I LOVE lentils and as a soup - yummo!

Still looking for that brussel sprout recipe.



Oh it looks and sounds so luscious that I want to eat my monitor lol! But it's only 11am right now so I shan't be a pig - I too am supposed to be cutting down on food in an attempt to lose some odd weight (after all, yesterday I had to buy a skirt that was ONE WHOLE SIZE larger than normal - irk!)
Ciao ciao

Scarlet x

Sass said...

Hey you. That soup looks amazing!

I gave you a little shout-out today in my post. Very low-key. :)

The Diva on a Diet said...

Hektik - you're not alone, weekends are tough for me too ... though no In-N-Out on this side of the country ... fortunately!

Ski Goddess - Yay on the official name change. Nice! Thanks, and you'll totally recognize me ... I've got a ways to go.

Deb - Brussel sprouts will appear shortly. I've got to make them again so I can take a picture.

Scarlet - a whole size? What are you, like a 4 now?! LOL (And hint, a 4 on our side of the pond is VERY small!) ;)

Sassy - Aw, how cool. Many thanks!!