Saturday, October 15, 2011

An admirably healthy dinner

Doesn't quite make your mouth water.
Cooking from Tender and powering through my CSA box, last night I made lentil chard soup. Or, as Nigel Slater prefers: a soup of lentils, bacon and chard.

The instructions puzzled me. Specifically, Slater calls for you to set aside  "four beautiful (chard) stalks and their leaves" while chopping the rest and cooking them into a sludgy soup. You are supposed to steam those four beautiful pieces of chard separately -- and whole -- then stir them into the soup at the end. I wonder if chard is smaller in Britain, because my every leaf of chard was the size of a tennis racket, or racquet, and I could not see how I could possibly steam these things whole. Also, I was unexcited about steaming something to put into soup, especially lentil soup, which is supposed to be easy and frumpy.

So I ignored this part of the recipe. I just chopped all the chard and cooked it together with the lentils, pancetta, onion, etc. My husband said he loved the soup, "except for that green stuff." When he went back for seconds he said he was going to "sieve out the kale." (He didn't end up sieving it out, but he didn't eat it.)

I liked the soup a lot. My only complaint about this recipe is that I didn't really need it: I could have improvised the soup. I am worried this will be true of a lot of Slater's recipes.

Incidentally, I bought the pancetta for the soup, even though homemade pancetta is easy to make and much cheaper. (Interested in making pancetta? I am going to do a tutorial on the blog next week.) But I didn't want to wait a week for it to cure. Then, after I'd bought the pancetta, I was digging around in the freezer and discovered a big bag of pink chunks that appeared to be frozen homemade pancetta. Sometimes I think the most valuable and underused tool in my kitchen is a Sharpie.

On another subject, I was on Marketplace the other day, interviewed by Tess Vigeland, who is as lovely and warm as she sounds on the radio. I have not listened to the clip, but my husband says that I did not embarrass myself.

21 comments:

  1. Every time I look at something in my freezer and wonder what it is, I am always wishing I would just mark things. Especially soup. I am always smelling frozen soup to see what kind it is, as if I can tell. I just end up defrosting one, like russian roulette. Yet, I do not mark things when I freeze them...

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  2. I am so excited to receive Make the Bread, Buy the Butter I can hardly stand it! I pre-ordered it a while ago after reading the hilarious excerpt in an in-flight magazine this summer. I should have it by the end of the week from ye olde Amazon if all goes as planned. I know I will love it and I am so glad you wrote it. Congratulations on the almost here release!

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  3. Yes on the sharpie. Looking forward to more on the book. And would never in a million years have dreamed of making my own pancetta so can't wait to see how this goes.

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  4. You sounded great on Marketplace. I'm ordering the book now.

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  5. i ordered it from local bookstore--The Twig. Made pumpkin waffles today with canned pumpkin because you said it was ok :)

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  6. Oooh, homemade pancetta, yes please! Some friends and I had a sausage-making extravaganza a few weeks ago, so I'm feeling emboldened.

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  7. Hubby and I caught your piece on Marketplace. We both agree that you have a great voice on the radio! Good job!

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  8. Azure -- Thank-you! If I come to southern California, I would love to meet you.

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  9. I am a librarian and purchased your new book for the library: I took it home and devoured it in one night; it is fantastic and I love your humor! Going to talk it up on our Corner Library show on our tiny NPR affiliate! After I put it down, I picked up Kate Atkinson's (one of my favorites!)new book, Started Early, Took My Dog, and there was your blurb on the back!!

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  10. LibraryLil -- Oh, thank-you! I love Kate Atkinson so much I have started rereading all her Jackson Brodie books. They were adapted for Masterpiece Theatre -- started last night -- but I haven't watched yet.

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  11. I just heard about the BBC production of the Jackson Brodie series last night as I hosted bookgroup! So excited, altho I will have to go to a friends who has DVR-ed them; no tv. For my bookgroup I made crepes stuffed with chicken, mushrooms, ham with Parmesan bechamel; alot of work but pleased with the results. Anyway, enough about me; so glad I have discovered your blog and I am telling all my library patrons about your blog!!

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  12. LibraryLil -- Oh, it was sad, I watched Case Histories last night and I couldn't get into it for any number of reasons. I think first and foremost, I loved the book too much.

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  13. oh no! Even with that cute guy?? Well, I am loving her new book.

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  14. Great interview, Jennifer. Will definitely not raise my own turkey for Thanksgiving and will feel better buying canned pumpkin for my pies.

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  15. LibraryLil, if you're in the USA, you can watch Case Histories here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/watch/index.html

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  16. Laughing hysterically at this post and the one after it. How well I remember my marathon cooking episodes trying to make everything in my CSA box. Plus the plethora of greens (that I had never eaten before I joined the CSA) that I received and my researching recipes for them. My favorite ckbk became Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" even tho I'm not vegetarian.

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  17. Thanks to Anonymous for the heads-up on computer watching Case Histories!
    This book is fantastic; going to talk on the radio about it next week. I did find a place in Southfield, MA that really makes croissants with Real butter! They look so unlike the garden variety at the other places.

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  18. You did great on Marketplace! I love Tess, and the combination of you with Tess caused me to stop doing everything. I just sat and listened.

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  20. Thanks for taking the time to post this. You sounded great on Marketplace!

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