February 22, 2009

Beef and Lentil Soup

I love finding old/unused pantry gems. I think there is a black hole somewhere in my kitchen where food goes to hide. Then, as if by magic, it reappears once it is past it's 'use by' date. I found a bag of green lentils that expired at the end of January. I hate wasting food, and really, are lentils in danger of being inedible only a month past their date???? I think not. At least that is what the frugal side of me thinks. Really, it should be fine since I have pulled this stunt with other legumes that were past expiration...they were still fit to be eaten. I will skip mentioning to the husband that the lentils are a wee bit past their prime...just so I don't get tormented. He should be happy that I am such a good steward of his paycheck!!! (Do you hear that?????...Pat, pat, pat...that is the sound of me patting myself on the back again.)

Anyway, this is a pretty complete and nutritionally balanced recipe. This is a Giada recipe that I found in my Giada's Family Dinners cookbook. Conveniently, it is also posted on foodnetwork.com so I don't have to re-type everything. I do have a few adjustments, but I will just indicate those in my notes below. Overall, this is a yummy, hearty dish that is great all-in-one meal.
I don't think I will serve any side items with this dish. Mainly, because I need to go grocery shopping and I don't have any side items to go with it. A green salad would be nice, but alas, I am too lazy to go to the store before dinner. I will have to save my grocery shopping for tomorrow or the next day.

We have made this dish before, but I don't think I have made it since starting this blog. So, it will be new to you, but not to us. I will still take a pic and review, since this is a new post for this recipe.

Beef and Lentil Soup
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 (14-ounce) cans beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups (about 11 ounces) lentils, rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Add half of the beef and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, rosemary, and oregano to the pot. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot. Add the broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the meat is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Add the lentils. Cover and continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Jen's Notes:
I need to substitute one pound of ground beef in for the boneless beef chuck. Also, I like to add about a cup of red wine to deglaze the pan before adding the beef broth. Chicken stock can also be used in place of the beef broth, if needed. I did a parsley/chive mix for the 'fresh herb' factor.

The Result:
This was so good. Actually, I think it was good. Since I use red wine in the recipe, I decided to have a couple glasses before dinner. You know, since it was already open and everything. Well, apparently two glasses of wine on an empty stomach is not a good idea. I am not a huge 'drinker' (not since college, at least), so two glasses threw me for a loop. I really could not taste dinner...just wine. Also, my face was slightly numb. Ugh. The husband said it was really, really good...so you will all have to take his word for it. I did eat my whole bowl of soup...so even in my compromised state of mind, it was still yummy.

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