Saturday, January 12, 2013
I should know better by now. The Costco 5-pound bag of carrots is only a good deal if you eat all of it. And yet, every time I leave the anesthetizing aisles of Costco I somehow have a cartful of what I can only describe as Hope. Hope that Anson and I will eat a standard pillow case-sized bag of spinach in a week. Hope that there is enough room in my freezer for three pounds of Antioxidant Berry Blend, and Hope that we will eat five pounds of baby carrots before they expire. I tell myself, being someone who gets twitchy at the thought of wasted food, that this will force us to eat lots of spinach, berries, and carrots.
In the past, I've regretfully thrown out what didn't get eaten and felt terrible. But not this week, not with my resolution to only buy what we will eat, and keep the freezer and cupboards turning over, rather than storing lots of random, impulsive food products.
And so we have my latest creation: "Creamy" Vegan Carrot and Lentil Soup with Spinach Pesto. This recipe uses one whole pound of baby carrots and a large amount of spinach. (As much spinach as I use daily, it seems to reproduce in the bag. Can someone tell me what is happening here?) It also uses the nutritional yeast flakes I found in my cupboard, which allowed me to make the pesto vegan. From there, I figured I might as well go all the way and make the whole recipe vegan.
You can make a non-vegan version if you want to by adding some cream at the end, tossing on some crispy bacon, or using parmesan instead of nutritional yeast in the pesto. But I swear, if I made this for you and didn't tell you it was vegan, you would think it has loads of cream in it. You would be tempted to dip your fried mozzarella cheese sticks in it. Healthy and decadent? Yes, it's possible.
"Creamy" Vegan Carrot and Lentil Soup with Spinach Pesto
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted almonds or pecans
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
6 handfuls of spinach
1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, and crushed red chile flakes
juice of half a lemon
1/4 to 1/3 cups olive oil
Add first 6 ingredients to a blender, turn on blender, and slowly drizzle in olive oil until the pesto is pasty. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender halfway through. Set aside. You may have more than you need; the rest can be tossed with hot pasta or spread on toasted baguettes.
Carrot and Lentil Soup
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 starchy potato, roughly chopped
1 pound of carrots, roughly chopped
1 1/2 quarts of vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 cup red lentils
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
In a dutch oven or other large soup pot, saute onions and celery in olive oil for a couple minutes. Add garlic, saute for another minute. Add potatoes, carrots, and 1 quart of broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat for a gentle boil for about 10 minutes.
Add lentils and turmeric. Bring to a boil again, then reduce to a simmer, uncovered. Cook about 20 minutes more until potatoes are very soft and lentils have fallen apart. You may need to add a little more stock as it's cooking if it gets too thick. The soup should be almost stew-like when it's done.
Taste for salt and pepper and add if necessary. Stir in red wine vinegar. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes. Very carefully (in two batches if necessary), ladle the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. At this point, you can decide how thick you want the soup and add more broth if necessary as you are blending.
Re-heat soup if you are serving immediately, or store in the fridge for later. Serve with dollops of Spinach Pesto on top.
Makes about six 8-ounce servings.