Don’t Waste a Thing

I must have been about seven at the time because we were living in the house where my brother was born. I recall my sister and I sitting at the kitchen table after dinner with our bowls in front of us being told that if we didn’t finish up, we couldn’t leave the table. What we had done was fish out all of the chunks of beef from my mother’s stew, leaving the barley, carrots, onion and celery. At the time, the ‘punishment’ was a terrible injustice. Now as an adult facing fall in full force with the threat of a mid-western winter just on the horizon, I would happily down vats of my mother’s hearty beef and barley stew or chicken soup made from leftover roast chicken the night before.

After an autumn storm in Michigan

It was a wonderful surprise to have the afternoon off the other day and, with that, the time to cook something nourishing and homey. Whether it be a thought-out appetizer or some cheese and crackers, Ryan and I usually like to nibble on something before dinner. This is especially true if the dinner will be boiling on the stove for awhile. Last night, with some green tea in hand instead of wine (head-cold), I put together an avocado and feta dip. We have an abundance of avocados because I snatch some up whenever I see them on sale. There really isn’t a true recipe for the dip. One whole avocado, about a half cup of feta cheese, some white wine vinegar, a little olive oil and lemon juice, oregano, pinches of salt and pepper – blend all of this into a fine puree and spoon onto toasts or cucumbers. Add a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat. It actually keeps the next day either on toast or straight out of the bowl with a spoon…

This I made and snacked on while my ‘peasant stew’ bubbled away on the stove-top and the cold night set in. Kale I have sautéed, baked into chips and steamed, but never added to a soup before. Incredibly simple, filling, and very delicious.

Lentil and Kale Soup with Sausage

Adapted from Gourmet

1-2 tbsp oil
1/2 lb kielbasa sausage, sliced
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package of lentils, rinsed
4-6 cups chicken broth
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bunch kale, de-ribbed and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp balsamic or red-wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown the pieces. Transfer sausage to a plate. Add another tablespoon of oil, if necessary, and add onions and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring, until onion is softened. Add lentils, broth, sausage and thyme to the pot and simmer, covered, for 40-50 mins until lentils are cooked. Add kale and simmer, this time uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

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