(This is just a gratuitous, updated picture of the girls, because really, can you ever get enough of chicken pictures? That short green fence is supposed to keep them out of the garden, but I can't say it's totally effective.)
Aaaanyway...if your life revolves in any way around the academic calendar, September and early October are hectic! My life revolves around the academic calendar in 3 ways: work, graduate school, and getting my kids off to college.
All of which leaves not nearly enough time for my creative pursuits. Last night one of my classes ended earlier than expected, and I had time to make some granola and also my standard, never-the-same-twice red lentil soup. If you're in the market for an inexpensive, easy-to-make soup that can be made with whatever you happen to have around, this is for you. I have to give credit to my (non-blogging) friend Hilary for the basic idea of this soup.
Here's what I do, with rough approximations of ingredients and amounts.
Julie's Red Lentil Soup
1--Saute in olive oil or ghee, some combination of these vegetables--peppers, onions, garlic, shallots, hot peppers. (Last night I used shallots and two jalapeno peppers.) You could add some freshly grated ginger if you like. You can also add dried herbs of your choosing here--ginger, oregano, thyme, basil could all be nice.
2--Add whatever other veggies you have on hand, particularly root vegetables or cruciferous vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, beets, cauliflower. (Last night I used turnips from my garden.) Saute for a few more minutes.
3--Add 4-8 cups of water or vegetable stock and heat to boiling.
4--Add 1-2 cups of red lentils. (Amounts of water and lentils are variable because you can base it on how many veggies you have, how much soup you want to make, and how thin you like your soup.)
5--Simmer until everything is tender and the lentils have started to break down. This could be 20-40 minutes, depending on the type of veggies and how mushy you like your soup.
6--This step is optional, but highly recommended. After it's been simmering about 15-20 minutes, add whatever fresh greens you have around, such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, etc. (Last night I used the turnip greens and collards from my garden.)
7--Simmer until it's done the way you like it! Just a few minutes before you take it off the stove, add whatever fresh herbs you have around. (Last night I used the last of the chives and basil from the garden.) Add about 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice at the very end.
This is good on its own, but even better with cheese, if you ask me. I add fresh goat cheese.
As I said to a friend after making this soup, cooking is my medicine and my religion. All the craziness of early Fall melted away, and that's even before I tasted the soup.
p.s. Coincidentally, 101 Cookbooks has a similar red lentil soup recipe today that includes rice.