Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Good things from the garden - Knockwurst Lentil Soup

I could crawl back into bed, I really could, and be done with the day. This is a TBA day (Total Body Ache) and it has me feeling sad before I even get started. Having said that, I am very glad I did haul this creaky old carcass out of bed, into clothes, and down the stairs. Road trip!

We - Rob, James and I - took one giant step closer to completion of my urban garden. Another trip to Home Depot for all kinds of practical stuff, like trellises and plant stakes. And then the plants, oh the plants!


The bougainvillea and the crotons are going to give a finished look to the front corner closest to the parking lot. The other plants, together with the other vegetables I picked up last week, are going to feed my family. No, really.

Green peas



"Never rub another man's rhubarb"

Ichiban and Black Beauty Eggplants

Tomatillos and Onions

And of course, tomatoes, eight kinds in total, including Mr. Stripey. I hope to be able to get both ripe and green tomatoes.  Fried green tomatoes, oh my.

That's as far as I got today; there are limits, and I reached mine pretty rapidly, without doing any lifting heavier than a tomato plant. I did prepare a favorite soup, incorporating the first vegetable harvest of this planting season, one perfect jalapeño.  I'm also in the midst of revising and finalizing the planting chart so my helpers can place things where I think they ought to be.

Knockwurst Lentil Soup:
I have been making this soup for 40 years and it never fails me. I originally got it from Weight Watchers, the really old, pre-Point Weight Watchers when Jean Nidetch still owned the company and if we wanted to bake anything we started by turning our daily bread allowance into crumbs. This recipe stands out among all the other WW recipes we collected, because it was so normal; there's no trickery or transformation. There is also not a drop of oil added. Even though my Weight Watcher days are over, I love this soup.

I admit to you now that this is the 2015 version; the jalapeño is the giveaway. I had never bought, much less used a jalapeño in my cooking, circa 1975. Same for the fresh herbs. In fact, the only fresh herb I ever saw my mother use was dill for her chicken soup, and back then, the grocer gave the dill away. Now that was service. I still occasionally pine for Waldbaum's, especially their deli counter, full of pickled herring and lox that was sliced right in front of you. Yeah, I love New York.

1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes, broken up
1 teaspoon chopped lemon thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound of lentils, cooked according to package directions, drained and cooking liquid reserved
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 Hebrew National knockwurst, thinly sliced
kosher salt
ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley and additional lemon thyme leaves, chopped

In a large pot, combine the first 10 ingredients and cook on medium-high for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir often, and if this looks dry, add a small amount of the liquid from the lentils to prevent it from burning. 

Add enough water to the reserved cooking liquid to equal 5 cups, and add this liquid to the pot along with the cooked lentils, wine vinegar, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the knockwurst, cover the pot, and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the cover and taste to adjust seasonings, including the salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and lemon thyme.

If you can't get lemon thyme, use the regular fresh thyme, or just use a little more of the dried thyme.

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