It is the end of summer and the leaves are beginning to fall (just a bit) here in Denver. I love this time of year. It is the beginning of hibernation for the garden. The plants are coming to the end of their seasonal life cycle, yet some are still producing delicious things to eat like the tomatoes, 2nd crop of radishes and peas and some baby lettuces. In a post later this week I will show you the really unusual radishes I grew this summer.
I have to confess I am tired of having to water nearly every day this summer. I am ready to turn the dirt over, rake the leaves and call it “good” for awhile.
There are things on my “fall/winter” bucket list I want to tackle. Like getting back to a big encaustic painting I was working on before the “Summer of 2’s (a recent post)” happened! Life is really good at throwing you curve balls and that is what happened this summer.
We are going from nearly 90 degree temps this week down to the low 70’s. Yet another reminder that the garden is getting ready to rest and sleep. My life will slow down a bit when fall comes and it’s time for reflection. What grew well this summer, what do I want to try to grow next spring and what did not grow very well here in Colorado. I feel blessed to have eaten such great produce all summer. I was also blessed to have had a grandmother to pass the gardening tradition on to me. It does enrich my life and I love sharing the bounty of produce with my family, friends and my students who come to take wine classes. They always seem so surprised by being able to eat so healthy and to get to experience eating something that was picked 1 hour ago. I often forget that this is not “normal” for most Americans.
The recipe for this post signals “fall” to me. I love beans and lentils and am looking forward to cooking with them until next spring when the growing cycle starts all over. I have been easing into a little more “fallish” food for the past couple of weeks doing a lot of stir-fries with the baby bok choy, brown rice, carrots,onions and left-over chicken, steak, or sausages.
I love lentils, especially black lentils. They look a little like the large black caviar to me! They are earthy and delicious. This recipe literally came about by diving into my refrigerator and pulling out 3 ingredients. A leftover rotisserie chicken, onions and carrots.
I had already found the black lentils in the pantry and wanted to make a soup. When you cook black lentils the water turns black!
That can be remedied by draining the lentils from the cooking water, rinsing them in cool water, then adding them to some soup stock or a sauce. That is what I did with these lentils. I wanted the stock to be clear so you could see all of the ingredients in the soup. If I had used the water I cooked the lentils in everything would have been a blackish color! Not too appetizing.
Black Lentil Soup with Heirloom Carrots
1/2 lb black lentils
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
6 bay leaves, 3 for the cooking the lentils, and 3 for cooking with the vegetables
1 yellow onion, diced fine
5-6 heirloom carrots, (white, orange, yellow, red, or purple), peeled and diced fine
1 rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned, and chopped fine
1 tbsp dried thyme or a 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Bones from rotisserie to make stock, or 8 cups of prepared chicken stock
Place the lentils in a medium-sized stock pot and add 4 cups of water, a large pinch of salt and the unpeeled garlic cloves along with 3 bay leaves. Cook the lentils until tender on medium heat. This will take about 30 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and rinse with cool water. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan add the butter, onions, bay leaves, thyme and carrots. Cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender. This will take about 20 minutes. Stir the vegetables frequently so they do not stick to the pan and burn.
Add 8 cups of chicken stock to the vegetables and the drained lentils. Heat on medium high heat till hot then serve.
I made my own chicken stock by covering the bones of the rotisserie chicken with water and cooking for about 30 minutes while I was cooking the lentils and vegetables. The stock was a little “weak” in flavor so I added about 1 tablespoon of chicken stock base to the stock to increase the flavor.