Wednesday, March 26, 2014

{Soup's On} Lentil & Kale Soup with Slow Cooker White Beans

 This brisk weather is not what I had in mind when I waxed poetic about spring the other day. It does, however, give me an excuse to attempt this delicious soup that has been simmering in my thoughts for awhile now.

It all started when my mom, on a trip to Little Rock last fall, had the audacity to ask the good people of Whole Foods to let her choose two 16 oz. soups for the price of the 32 oz. When that was not amenable to them, she didn't just get her soup and go as I would have done. She pressed on, asking to combine two of the soups into one 32 oz. container. If it had been me, I would have looked wistfully at the lentil soup only to fill my soup container with the white bean and kale soup and then set off on my way. But not my mom. She always asks the question. She got that container of lentil soup combined with white bean and kale soup...and she said it was delicious.

So, I decided to make it myself. When I told my husband that the soup he was about to consume was of my own creation, he raised his eyebrows. But guess what? We both thought it was pretty yummy too. Here is the recipe for Lentil & Kale Soup with Slow Cooker White Beans (adapted from this Whole Foods recipe).

Slow Cooker White Beans
2 cups dried great northern beans
2 teaspoons onion salt
3 springs thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced

Sort and rinse beans, then soak them overnight to ensure they become soft and tender. Drain and rinse your beans. Combine the ingredients in a large crockpot. Cover with water by about 2 inches. Mix together well and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Cool beans and store them in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Lentil & Kale Soup with Slow Cooker White Beans
8 cups vegetable broth
1 package of brown lentils
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, chopped
5 cloves of garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 tsp chili powder
2 cups Crockpot White Beans (alternately, you can use 2 cans of white beans)
1 bunch of kale with stems and hard ribs removed, roughly chopped or torn

Heat 3/4 cup broth over medium-high heat in a large pot. Bring to a simmer, then add onion, garlic, carrots and pepper; cook about 8 minutes until vegetables are tender and onion is translucent. Stir in chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add lentils, tomatoes and remaining broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Add kale, cover and cook until kale is softened and wilted and lentils are almost tender, about 5 more minutes. Uncover,  add beans and cook 10 minutes longer. Serve.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ah, spring {plus, a giveaway}

Yes, I did say giveaway in the title and I know that you will probably just skim this post until you find the magic words, "here's what you need to do to enter." I will get to that in a bit. I've been anticipating this day for what feels like forever now. On this day, I look at the tiny buds of the daffodils blooming in the soft morning light, and even though there is still a chill in the air, I feel like winter is finally behind us. Along with the snow and the ice, the frigid temperatures and the long, dark nights, I hope winter takes with her the doubts, shadows and fears that tend to loom large when the sun isn't shining quite as much. As the writer and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu wrote, "We've had our frigid weather, cold enough to freeze the glitter on a fairy, and now it's spring." I, for one, am ready for the pruning and regrowth this season brings.

The first day of spring often coincides with the birthday of one of my favorite people. She's often mentioned on this blog because she takes awesome photographs of me and my family. However, this year it happens to fall on another special person's birthday. His name is Ryan and he's only 2, but he's already made an impression on me. I started following his mom on Instagram because I wanted to win a certain cloth diaper giveaway. I fully intended to stop following once the giveaway was over because let's face it, the thought of following the photos from a company dedicated to helping you take care of your baby's poop just doesn't sound all that appealing (that company would be Spray Pal). Then a funny thing happened. I started seeing the photos from this "CEO of poop" and instantly fell in love with minispraypal 2.0, as Ryan is known on the interwebs. I've loved watching this micropreemie achieve milestones and overcome challenges, and I feel honored to play a tiny role in his 2nd birthday celebration.

This is where the giveaway comes in. So many awesome companies have come together to celebrate Ryan's special day with the mother of all giveaways. I'm serious, you guys. It's so big that it had to be split into 2 super awesome prize packs. The rafflecopter is going to seem daunting, but you have some time so spread your entries out. Comment and spread the word over social media now, then come back while your nursing your little one and do a few more entries, and repeat during the next few days! It will be so worth it! Some of the great prizes include a Nook highchair from Joovy, a Beco Soleil baby carrier, and Freshly Picked moccasins, not to mention a slew of cloth diapers. Okay, I'll go ahead and mention a few of those too--sustainablebabyish|Sloomb, Rockabums, and Lalaybye Baby!

a Rafflecopter giveaway