This weekend though, I am going to have to swim every day to make up for it, along with doing something else: I am going to do my very first Daring Baker's Challenge. I will post the recipe and my results and pictures of course when I, as a participant, am allowed to at the end of the month. It will be interesting, and should take up quite a bit of my day on Saturday, but I am looking forward to it very much. This year, on the weekends, will be when I can get most of my baking done, as well as long cooking projects.
Besides the Daring Baker's Challenge this weekend I also hope to make madeleines, because if I am going to have the name Madeleine's madeleines I ought to have a picture of madeleines. We'll see if I can find one that fits the bill. Maybe Julia Child? I'm not sure if I have her recipe... I do remember though that I once saw a recipe from an old French cookbook requiring lots of beating butter with a wooden spoon...maybe this? It would be challenging!
Anyways, today, just like last time, I made soup. Soup is generally very difficult to mess up. You mostly just have to be sure the ingredients don't 1) burn 2) turn to mush/uncooked 3) taste entirely unbalanced. Most of these problems don't even occur when you are following the recipe to the T anyways, but who does that with soup?
I got the recipe for tonight's dinner from Rachel Ray, and it was surpisingly better than I expected. It is very filling and though it states that it feeds four people, six is probably more accurate. The thyme and rosemary are wonderful flavors in it. There are many different textures, from the chewiness of the kale and the creaminess of the potatoes. Some changes I did make were to use chicken sausage with casings, cut up into thin half-moons. I had no fresh thyme or rosemary and just substituted dried of both. I may have added more kale than necessary, because the recipe asks for "a bunch" of kale and though I had a bunch it seemed like quite a bit. Anyways, it did cook down fine and seemed to be a good amount. In short, you can use more kale than you think you need. Also, (the list of changes seem endless) I didn't add a full half pound mushrooms because, well, I only had about 5 ounces. I added them and it turned out perfectly fine, though I generally prefer more. The recipe is below:
Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale
1 tablespoon EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage (Used chicken sausage with casings, probably less taste but still quite good)
1 cup lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 baking potato, peeled and diced
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
3 to 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves shredded
Yields: 4 servings
Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat with one turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Once hot, add the sausage and sauté for 3-4 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with the back of a spoon or a potato masher as it cooks and browns.
While the sausage is browning, pour the lentils out onto a light-colored plate and sift through them. Discard any small stones -- sometimes you find them sometimes you don't, but better safe than sorry.
To the browned sausage, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, potato, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and the tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
Add the stock and 2 cups of water, turn the heat up to high and bring up to a bubble. Add the lentils and the kale, stir until the kale wilts in then turn the heat down to medium and simmer 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Serve.