Dinner: Lentil, Bacon, and Rosemary Soup

I’m pretty sure this is my favorite take on lentil soup. It’s just the right amount of broth, the lentils haven’t soaked up all of the liquid, and if you keep your veggies roughly chopped you’ll end up with a hearty, rustic soup. Split pea soup should be creamy in my book, but lentil soup should have lots of texture. For only using a cup of lentils, this recipe actually yields a good amount. Freeze extra in bags or containers and reheat later when you don’t feel like cooking or for an easy lunch.

You’ll need:

1 cup of lentils
3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 leek, chopped and rinsed thoroughly
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 14oz can on whole plum tomatoes
1 ¾ quarts of stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the bacon in a heavy pot until crisp on medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Everything is better with bacon...

Everything is better with bacon…

2. Add the leek, celery, carrot, rosemary and bay leaves. Stir everything to coat with the bacon drippings, and cook 3-5 minutes.

The base for the soup

The base for the soup

3. Add the canned tomatoes (juices included) and the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cut the heat down to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with crusty French bread!

Dinner: German Venison Stew

This recipe happens to be a lovely mix of my German and redneck ancestries. It is a take on a Tyrolean Game Stew, but instead of using a few pounds of liver, gizzards, and meat from any number of varmint I will be using some lean venison stew meat provided by my dad after this year’s hunting season. This recipe has quite a few steps, some of which I don’t understand, but for the sake of following this recipe as best as I can I’ll stifle my complaints and just go with them.

Of course, not everyone has access to venison. If your family is lacking someone with a hunting license and the time to sit in a tree stand for hours on end, feel free to use beef. The main differences you’ll notice immediately is how lean and dark the venison is- it’s a beautiful shade of burgundy, almost purple in some cuts. Your mind will instantly tell you, “This is the red meat I should always be putting into my body!” As far as the taste, venison does have a slightly stronger flavor. A good deer that had been foraging on a healthy diet and then properly cleaned and butchered shouldn’t have much of that notorious ‘gamey’ taste.

Here we go!

You’ll need:
2 lbs of venison stew meat, cubed into uniform chunks
5 cups of water
3 Tbs of white vinegar
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 leek, sliced and thoroughly washed
1 onion, sliced
8-10 peppercorns
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
4 slices of diced bacon, or 2 Tbs of bacon drippings or butter
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs sugar
½ cup of red wine

1. Add your spices (the clove, bay leaf, peppercorns) and veggies (leek, onion, carrot, celery) to the 5 cups of water and white vinegar. Salt the water, like if you were cooking pasta. Bring to a simmer and add the venison.

2. In a separate pot on medium-high heat, add your bacon and fry until the fat has rendered out. If you’re not using bacon, melt down the butter or bacon drippings. Remove the bacon (if you’re using it) and add the flour. This is called a roux, and will give your stew a gravy-like consistency. Take your time with this, and do not walk away! Baby it. Love it. Nurture it. If given time (about 8-10 minutes), it will develop a nutty smell and a deep, rich color.

Starting to cook the roux...

Starting to cook the roux…

3. Once you get the roux to the color of cocoa powder, add the sugar. Sugar burns quickly, so let it cook only another minute or two and do not walk away.

4. Whisk in 3 cups of the simmering venison broth, one cup at a time. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, and whisk vigorously to make sure the lumps get out. photo

5. Drain the meat and veggies from the broth. Add the meat and veggies to your gravy along with the red wine, and toss the remaining broth.

6. Let this simmer together for another 20 minutes uncovered.

German Venison Stew

German Venison Stew

Lunch: Rosemary and White Bean Soup

This is based off of one of Ina Garten’s recipes out of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I’m a big fan of her recipes because many times they are timeless classics with just a few ingredients. Like all soups, this one tastes even better as leftovers. It makes a big batch, which you can divide into single servings and freeze for an easy dinner or lunch later in the week.

You’ll need:

1 lb Great Northern beans, soaked overnight in water

3 onions, sliced

¼ cup of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 branch of rosemary (fresh should be used, but if you can’t find even a little plant at your grocery store use about 1 Tbs dried)

2 quarts chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegan option)

1 bay leaf

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Sautee your onions in the olive oil until they are translucent.
  2. Add your minced garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.

    The ingredients to a rosemary and white bean soup.

    The ingredients to a rosemary and white bean soup.

  3. Add the drained beans, stock, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for about 40-45 minutes. The beans will be very soft when done.
  4. Remove the rosemary branch (if fresh was used) and the bay leaf. Ladle into a food processor or blender, but reserve a cup or two if you like your soup with some texture. Pulse until roughly pureed.
  5. Pour soup back into the pot, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and serve hot with crusty bread and a salad.

    Rosemary and White Bean soup with french bread and Mettwurst

    Rosemary and White Bean soup with french bread and Mettwurst