Friday, December 17, 2010

how about a recipe for spiced lentil & chickpea soup? is december 17th. christmas eve is a week from today (yikes) and i am nowhere near ready. oh...and have i mentioned that my entire family is coming to napa this year for the holidays? and that i can't seem to stop inviting friends to join us? and that this has been an unbelievable year for online orders? (thank you everyone!) i have spent the last 3 weeks non stop packing up shipments and driving back & forth between ups and fed ex...whew...didn't i leave corporate life to stop working so hard?

now, i know that last paragraph sounds like i am complaining...but my friends know that i am actually loving every minute of my life...and hosting christmas makes me happier than i can say. the trick is to have a plan...and get over the concept of trying to have everything perfect. i know it sounds cliche..but i think my family is really much more interested in being together than how i have decorated my home...or if i serve elaborate and time consuming meals. my philosophy for holiday food is the same as the rest of the year...use the best-quality-possible ingredients and then don't muck it up with overly complicated preparations.

most people arrive on the 23rd...and almost everyone is driving a long distance that day...either from southern california or oregon. i am keeping the guest list that night small...just family...and making a meal that is easy, delicious and forgiving for late arrivals. i can set everything out...keep the soup simmering on the stove...and let people serve themselves. i want to be free to catch up with everyone. have i told you how much i adore my family?

my december 23rd menu is easy: spiced lentil & garbanzo bean soup, baked ham with orange-ginger glaze topped with smoked brown sugar, extra virgin olive oil biscuits and a big salad. dessert is...what else?...massive platters of cookies. wine, beer and sherry with the cookies complete the spread...oh and hot chocolate for the kids (spiked with spiced rum for the adults).
we are scheduled for 10 days of rain here in napa...the tree is decorated, lights up, fireplace stocked and holiday music loaded. i think i am ready for the 23rd. now, if i can just finish buying presents we will be good to go...

this soup is adapted from a recipe i found in martha stewart living magazine. i followed the recipe but added additional vegetables because i like the taste...and like amping up the nutrients. also, martha's recipe was for a stew...i turned it into a is delicious. i am suggesting people make mini sandwiches with the ham and soup, sandwiches and salad should be perfect to help unwind after the long car rides...

spiced lentil & garbanzo bean soup(if you can, use local, organic ingredients..there really is a difference in taste and so much healthier)
1/2 cup dried garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
1 onion, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
8 cups homemade or organic store bought vegetable stock
4 cups water, reserved from bean soaking liquid
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, very finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
3 tsps kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 bunch kale, chiffonade and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 28 oz can, whole tomatoes (pour into a large bowl and crush tomatoes with your hands)
1 cup lentils (i like either yellow or pink in this dish, but any kind will work)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
small pinch red pepper flakes
small pinch freshly cracked black pepper
5 oz whole wheat, small elbow macaroni
2 tbsp italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp italian parsley, whole leaves

1. place chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in a large stockpot and cover with 5 inches of water. let soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. drain beans reserving 4 cups of soaking liquid. place beans in a bowl.
2. add 3 tbsp olive oil to stockpot and heat until warm. add chopped onion and cook until translucent (about 5 min). add chickpeas, stock and the 4 cups of reserved soaking liquid. simmer until beans are tender, approx 45 minutes.
3. using the side of a chef's knife, mash the garlic, cilantro and salt into a paste. add garlic paste, bell pepper, kale, celery, tomatoes with their juice, lentils, tomato paste, and all the spices to bean mixture. squeeze the juice from one lemon juice to the pot. stir. simmer uncovered until lentils are tender. 30-40 minutes.
4. add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, approx 10 minutes.
5. stir in coarsely chopped cilantro and parsley.
6. garnish with parsley leaves and serve with remaining lemon wedges.

do you have family visiting for the holidays? what are your time saving tips? please share in the comments section below...thanks
best and happy cooking!

diane padoven
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1 comment:

Jen said...

This looks scrumptious! I'm going to make it this weekend.