Lemony Lentil Soup

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:27 Written by Flax Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:17

fennel seeds with dried lemon

While winter is seriously delayed in our neck of the woods, it will, G-d willing, soon arrive. In anticipation of that day, I prepared a lentil soup. While everyone know that you eat soup to warm up on a cold winter day, what we sometimes forget is the role spices play in keeping us healthy. While we might think of spices as a way to flavor dishes, they have much greater benefits than just taste.
Spices are part of nature’s medicine chest. What’s wonderful about using spices as medicine is, they taste good, are easy to use, can be found in abundance, and are relatively inexpensive. Additionally, spices and herbs are natural preservatives. This means that they kill and prevent harmful bacteria from forming in our food as well as in our bodies. Turmeric, perhaps the most important spice of all, has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities. It is also an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also lowers cholesterol, dissolves gallstones and increases ligament flexibility. It is also known to prevent both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. So I say, “eat your turmeric every day, to keep the doctor far away.
Spices, in addition to their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, can improve the digestive process. Some spices improve the digestion through warming the system and helping to eliminate toxins. These include, among many others, cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg. Some spices are cooling and are useful for someone who suffers from too much heat. One of these is mint, commonly used in the summer. Another food, also used as a condiment, is lemon. Not only is lemon cooling, it is also a disinfectant and helps to dissolve fats and oils.
Seeds, used as spices, also have the same effect, promoting digestion and absorption of nutrients while helping to eliminate toxins. Some examples of these include, dill, caraway and fennel.

In this recipe I use a variety of spices, influenced by Persian cooking. The soup calls for a dried lemon, a common ingredient in Persian food. The sourness of the lemon is balanced by the sweetness of the vegetables as well as the sweet spices in the allspice. The fennel seeds I threw in just for the fun of it.

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1/4 green cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 cup green lentils
3 liters water
1/2 bunch coriander or parsley
1 dried Persian lemon
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp allspice (contains cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper)
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Saute the onion for 2 minutes and then sweat the remaining vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the spices and the water and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes or more.

Serve hot.

Enjoy!

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Quinoa-Veggie Bake

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 December 2010 03:34 Written by Flax Sunday, 21 November 2010 02:39

Seasonal cooking not only uses seasonal vegetables, it also uses seasonal methods. Autumn is the season for baking. Logically, this makes sense. Autumn is the time when the nights are getting colder and you want to slightly warm up your house. Having the oven on for an hour helps to take the chill out of the evening and to lightly warm us up as well. The longer food is cooked the “warmer” it is. Baked foods are more warming than a summer stir-fry, while they are not as warming as a winter stew which would cook on a low flame for hours.

Here I chose to use quinoa, not only because it is high in calcium and iron, but because I love the way it bakes, all soft and mushy, it kinds of melts in your mouth. You can just as easily substitute it with barley, rice, wild rice, or wheat berries, just adjust the amount of water accordingly.
Likewise with the vegetables. The vegetables I use are commonly found autumn vegetables but feel free to substitute any vegetables you wish. I use the color rule: orange vegetables, white vegetables and green vegetables. Orange vegetables are sweet, white vegetables are pungent and either bitter or sweet, while green vegetables are bitter and salty. When you look at the taste of the vegetables, it is easy to find a suitable alternative.

This recipe is one of my, all-in-one, make-it-easy, Shabbat dishes. You have a whole grain (the quinoa) your veggies, and the option of making it vegetarian or adding chicken or turkey. Plus, the fact that it is simple does not mean that it is not delicious. Another plus here, there is only one dirty pot at the end of the meal. 🙂

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch beet leaves, chopped
3 jerusalem artichokes, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2 branches thyme, stems discarded
1 1/2 cups quinoa (rinsed)
3 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
salt and pepper

optional: 1 chicken, quartered, or 1 turkey roll

Preheat oven to 180c/350f.
Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for 10 more minutes. Remove from the flame and add the quinoa, water and spices. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
If you are using chicken or turkey, then put it on top of the quinoa and bake 1 1/2 -2 hours depending on the size of the turkey roll. If the chicken/turkey is skinned then brush with olive oil and paprika to give it color and prevent it from drying out.

Enjoy!

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Adzuki Bean Soup

Last Updated on Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:20 Written by Flax Sunday, 14 November 2010 02:01

Adzuki (aduki) beans are  small red beans that originated in the Far East.  They are one of my favorite beans as they are both delicious and cook relatively quickly.  Adzuki beans need as little as forty-five minutes to cook.  This is less than half of the time required to cook some of the larger legumes.  Adzuki beans are great sauteed with an onion and served on a bed of rice, or you can use them in the Asian fashion, ground up, sweetened and added to a dessert.  The recipe below uses them in a soup.
A lot of people tend to avoid eating beans due to a “certain reaction”, be aware that there are ways of avoiding this uncomfortable issue. Firstly, eat beans in small quantities. One of the main reasons for flatulence is that there are too many beans in one dish. Anyone who is not used to eating beans should start off  with small quantities until your digestive system adjusts to them.
Some people think that soaking the beans to remove the phytic acid helps and some people believe the opposite.  As with any machloket (difference of opinion) choose the opinion that you think is correct.   Personally, I have tried both ways and I don’t find either to be superior.  The best way to avoid bean-discomfort is to properly cook the beans. There are certain foods and spices that help to break down the phytic acid in the beans and to assist in their later digestion. These include, turmeric, cumin, bay leaf, and seaweeds. The recipe below uses an abundance of these methods, turmeric, cumin, and seaweed.  If unfortunately you find that none of the above methods work, try taking a pro-biotic before the meal, or  drink a cup of water with one drop of high quality lavender oil (while it is not the most palatable drink, it is certainly effective).
So, here’s the question, if beans are hard to digest and cause discomfort, why bother eating them?
Legumes, including, beans, peas and lentils are some of the best foods for you. They are the perfect food for people with a heat or damp condition. This means that if you are overweight, suffer from edema, or from a yeast condition, you should be eating beans. This is because beans help to regulate sugar, water, and other aspects of metabolism. To my mind however, their most important feature is that they tonify the kidneys.   Well functioning kidneys have a positive influence on proper growth and development of the body, as well as the brain. The kidneys are also responsible for any of the activities of the lower chakra, including sexual activity. The adzuki bean specifically is the bean that is most connected to female related sexual function. They help nursing mothers to produce more milk, they are tonifying for mothers after birth and they help to regulate periods. For extra long menses, it is recommended to chew five raw adzuki beans daily until the menses stop.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cups adzuki beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 square of kombu
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1″ ( 2 cm) ginger, chopped
  • 1 box shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 kohlrabi, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 liters water
  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • salt
  • pepper

Garnish:

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until the onions are soft. Add remaining vegetables and spices (except for the salt) and saute for a few more minutes until the vegetables are a little bit soft. Add the water and bring to a boil. Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the kombu. Simmer for one hour, add the salt. Puree, garnish and serve.

Note: I put the garnishes on the table and everyone put in their own.

Note: Cooking beans with salt prevents them from softening. It is recommended to add salt towards the end of the cooking process.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and she teaches Healthy-Cooking Classes.

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