Every time I look out the window these days the weather seems to be doing something else besides what it was doing a few minutes ago. If I were in a car each time I check the weather, I’d have whiplash; instead I have massive sinus pressure issues, and do use a lot of tissues. (Is there a Haiku in there somewhere?)
Here’s what it looked like in my back yard yesterday:
There’s a beautiful almond tree up the hill a ways to the left, blooming for the first time this year. Earlier this morning it looked like a large round pink cotton candy; now it resembles a large round dandelion covered with snow. For spring, “man proposes, nature disposes.” I took a picture of it to show and tell, but the camera card ate it so I can’t show you. That’s how it goes some days.
As I watched wistfully out the window, however, I got to thinking in syllables of 5-7-5, trying to fit the right words to describe my feelings. Instead, I began to think how nice it would be to have a big bowl of hot soup. So I went to the refrigerator to see what was there, and checked out my pantry; came up with almost a whole sweet onion wrapped in plastic wrap, a plastic baggie with about half a bunch of kale, and three sweet potatoes. Voila! The beginnings of a very good seat o’the pants, making the recipe up as I go along, kind of soup. Best of all, the wintery green kale and the springtime sweet potatoes seemed to match the weather outside. Winter marries spring. Besides, my larder said it would have to do. So what you see there is what I came up with. Some days I can’t cook worth a t-total dam; some days I’m blessed, especially with that seat o’the pants stuff. Soup is one of my fortes, however, so what did I have to lose?
Usually when I make something that turns out well, as Hubby and I both agreed this did, I can’t repeat it because I didn’t pay attention to the little of this and a dab of that to fully duplicate it a second time. This time, I decided to pay attention. Though I didn’t write it down, I’m going to do it now and offer it to anyone who would like to try it, then I’ll have it filed away safely so I can repeat it myself whenever I want. The pluses are that it’s easy, takes about five main ingredients, has nearly no fat, and is not only delicious but nutritious as well. It’s good for two (or one, ’cause you can freeze the leftovers) or a few, because by my count it makes about 6 generous servings. The minuses? Well . . . I can’t think of any.
SPRING MARRIES WINTER VEGGIE SOUP
(Sweet Potato & Kale)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped in medium sizes (or a half of a large one from the ‘fridge
1/2 cup red lentils
3 medium sweet potatoes, raw, peeled and chopped
1/2 bunch kale, sliced with much of the large stems removed
5-6 cups plain water
spices: 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/8 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
salt & pepper to taste
- Put the olive oil into a large pot or Dutch oven (that has a lid that fits) over a high flame. PLACE THE POT LID AT ARM’S LENGTH, then put the black mustard seeds in. When they begin to pop as if they want to flee the hot oil, stir them around and turn the heat down to medium or low, and put the lid on for a few seconds. After the seeds settle down, open up again and add all the chopped onion at once, then the cumin and coriander and stir and cook until the onions begins to turn a nice golden color.
- Now you put the red lentils in and add about two cups of the water. Bring it back to a full boil on a higher heat, stir, turn the heat down to low again and pop the lid on. It will simmer this way until the red lentils are tender. Red lentils, unlike yellow split peas, will boil tender in about 20 to 30 minutes. When they test fairly tender, you’re ready to add the sweet potatoes.
- After you add the sweet potatoes, all at once, you’ll want to add more water. This is somewhat up to the cook. I would say at least a cup or a cup and half. Remember you’re making soup so you’ll want a good bit of liquid and it’s pretty much to taste and art, not science when you’re making soup. This step may take another 20 minutes or half hour with the lid on.
- After the potatoes are fork tender, you can toss the kale in. You’ll probably need to add a bit more water here too. Here it when it begins to look pretty and fill the kitchen with good smells too. (Not like chitlins & tripe in Mama’s southern kitchen!) All you need to do now is set the flame to low or medium low so the soup can simmer with the lid on.
If you wanted to be fancy, you could make your own veggie stock, or use chicken or beef broth. Since we’re not meat eaters in our house, I keep a good canned veggie broth on hand, but find when I begin my soup base with sauteed onions, I don’t really need it. Plain water from the tap serves just as well. The great thing about homemade soup is that small variations can result in wonderful new recipes.
Timing wasn’t an issue. I started my soup around 2:30 p.m. By around 4:30 the kitchen smelled delicious, and had I wanted to I could have had a bowl right then and there. But I waited with my burner adjusted so low as to just keep the whole pot of soup hot and ready to eat when Hubby was ready for it after the news. YUM YUM!
Sometimes a day that begins with disappointment in the weather and things in general can end with a whole unexpected goodness and sense that despite the fickle weather, all really is well with the world. And nothin’ says lovin’ (and that means loving yourself, too) like a good, hot bowl of winter and spring veggie soup. I hope you enjoy it.