Well I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but it has been C-O-L-D in Charlotte. The snow started falling in the wee hours of Monday morning and did not stop all day. That is, of course, until the sleet and freezing rain started just in time for rush hour.
Luckily, this is the South…so there was no “rush hour” during the icy/snowy days. You Yankees readers will probably laugh, but at the slightest mention of a snow flurry, Southerners raid the grocery stores, stock up on bread, milk, and eggs like their life depends on it, and will cancel anything and everything for a mere inch of accumulation. (Weirdly, when we lived in San Diego, I noticed that Southern Californians seemed to do the same thing with predictions of rain .) Oh, and BANANAS! Bananas are apparently a necessity if you are going to be frozen into your house for 3 days. I went to three grocery stores and I’m telling you – there’s not a banana in sight.
Today was the first day this week that the high’s here in the Queen City have risen above the 20’s. As such, all that sleet and freezing rain left us with 1/4″ of ice on top of the snow. If there is anything Southerners fear more than snow in the winter, it’s ICE! So basically, I had all day Monday and half the day Tuesday off work. And what’s a girl to do when she’s cooped up inside because because it looks like this outside…
Make SOUP! What else?
I recently came across the blog 101 Cookbooks. I’m a REALLY late comer to Heidi’s blog, but I’m loving it so far. I loved it so much that I put her cookbook on my Christmas list this year…and got it! I’m reading through it right now and hope to show off some recipes soon. On New Year’s Day, though, Heidi posted this recipe for New Year’s Noodle Soup and I knew I had to try it…slightly modified to my taste, of course. Being snowed in on Monday was the perfect opportunity.
Thankfully, I planned ahead and soaked my dried lentils and beans overnight so they were ready go when I was. While heating olive oil in my big new Martha Stewart 7-quart Cast Iron casserole pot, I chopped a big yellow onion
and minced a serrano pepper in my mini Cuisinart food processor then added them both to the pot.
Next you throw in some tumeric, cumin, and freshly ground black pepper and mix it until the onions turn this gorgeous golden yellow color.
Then it’s time for the vegetable stock, lentils, chick peas, and beans. Heidi’s recipe calls for borlotti beans, but I couldn’t find any to save my life – dried or canned. So I substituted navy beans, and I think it turned out pretty well.
Let all that cook together for about 25-30 min, then add thin egg noodles.
**Side Note – The recipe called for 120 g of noodles, which was about 1/2 of the bag I purchased. With a little slip of the hand I accidentally emptied the entire bag of noodles into my pot. All those extra noodles basically absorbed most of my soup liquid. So, my “soup” actually turned out to be more like the consistency of Spaghetti-O’s…even after I added an extra quart of stock. But it still tasted great and hit the spot during these last few icy cold days.
Just before serving, you add about 3 1/2 oz of spinach leaves. I decided to chiffonade my spinach leaves because, frankly, the idea of encountering a huge wilty spinach leaf in a spoonful of my soup kinda freaked me out.
It’s not that I dislike spinach. I’ll gladly eat it in a salad. But I just can not bring myself to eat it cooked. That pile of wilty spinach on my plate just grosses me out. It grossed me out when Popeye squirted it out of the can, and it grosses me out now.
So I made sure than any wilty spinach I encountered in my soup would be as small and delicate a piece as possible, blending nicely the with noodles, legumes, and onions. See…D-E-L-I-C-A-T-E…
You hardly notice it once you stir it in. But doesn’t the green spinach look beautiful against lovely golden color of the soup!
Finally, the recipe calls for the addition of 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro and 2 tbsp of fresh dill. These are both flavors that send a shiver up my spine and, for me at least, can ruin a meal. I didn’t want to leave them out completely and leave the soup devoid of all flavor. So I added them, but used dried in stead of fresh and cut WAY back on the amounts. I think I may have added 3 tsp of each to the 7-qt pot o’ soup. As such, I could discern a hint of each of those flavors in the finished product, but was not overwhelmed by them in the least. For me, that was perfect. If you enjoy these flavors, by all means, follow the original recipe and pile them in.
Lastly, Heidi suggests topping your bowl off with caramelized onions, creme fraiche, sour cream, or toasted and chopped walnuts. I went for the walnuts and LOVED them. I tasted the soup both with and without them. While it was delicious either way, the walnuts added a completely new dimension of flavor. And, because I’m a good Southern girl, I served it with a side of warm, buttery cornbread! PERFECTION!
It was scrumptious and JUST wanted I wanted in this cold, cold weather…even if it was more like a pasta dish than an actual soup. I will definitely be making this again. Next time, though, I’ll go a little lighter on the noodles and I think I may add some shiitake mushrooms.