Category Archives: New Year’s

Curried Lentil Soup

Welcome 2014! Hope everyone had fun ringing in the new year. I was happy to have a quiet night at home and thankfully my little guy was asleep in his crib at midnight for once.

Like soba noodles, lentils are another traditional New Year’s food. In Brazil they are eaten to represent the hope for prosperity in the new year, just like black eyed peas are eaten for the same reason in parts of the USA.

In addition, January is national soup month. Soups are nice and filling and often lower in calories for those people eating light after holiday decadence. Also they’re really comforting on a cold winter day. We tend to eat a lot of soup this time of year.

Despite my quiet New Year’s Eve, I was still pretty tired on New Year’s Day (thanks to a toddler and a full time job and actually making it until midnight without falling asleep) and wanted to spend a relaxing family day mostly outside of the kitchen. A slow cooker soup allowed that to happen!

Curried Lentil Soup

Prior to putting everything in the slow cooker, I microwaved chopped onions, grated ginger, curry powder, some vegetable oil, and tomato paste for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently. This let the onions soften and the flavors come together.

After that, I added the onion mixture to the slow cooker along with 8 cups of chicken broth (could definitely use vegetable broth if you prefer), chopped carrots, and a cup of lentils. I cooked the soup on low for about 6 hours which allowed me plenty of time to take my son to the playground to work up an appetite for dinner and bake some bread. By then the lentils were tender. Before serving I added chopped tomatoes, more ginger, and fresh cilantro to the soup and seasoned with some freshly ground black pepper.

Curried Lentil Soup

The taste was fantastic! The house smelled amazing from the start when microwaving the onions. It wasn’t spicy but the merger of onions, ginger, and curry was delicious. Curry powder is a combination of multiple ground spices including cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. For this recipe I used a homemade curry powder that I had made a batch of last month, but whatever type of curry powder you enjoy and have on hand will work great. My husband requested to have this soup again and my 15 month old wanted more and more of it (though he’s still working on using a spoon so he wore quite a bit too) so I’m calling it a success. Here’s to a year of prosperity and longevity!

Curried Lentil Soup

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Curried Lentil Soup (adapted with minimal modifications from Slow Cooker Revolution volume 2)

Yield: serves 6

2 cups chopped onions (2 small/medium onions)

2 tablespoons grated ginger, divided

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons curry powder

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds

1 cup lentils, rinsed

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. In a microwave safe bowl, place the onions, 1 tablespoon of ginger, tomato paste, oil, and curry powder. Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently, until the onions are softened.

2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker, along with the broth, carrots, and lentils. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

3. Once the lentils are tender, after about 6 hours on low, add the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of ginger and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 200 calories, 5 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

Soba noodles, also known as buckwheat noodles, are a traditional New Year’s food in Japan. It is thought that the length of the noodles symbolizes longevity in life, which of course is a good thing to hope for going into a new year. Aside from the length of the noodles, this dish may help contribute to a long life because it’s really good for you. I know a lot of people make various healthy eating resolutions starting January 1st and this recipe won’t derail you. Over the next few weeks I’m planning to feature a number of nutritious and lower calorie meals that will help you to achieve your resolutions. I’ll put the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe. If there’s not nutrition info, more than likely you just don’t want to know (or my 15 month old son just wouldn’t go to bed so I didn’t have time to calculate everything, which is a distinct possibility these days)!

This dish is satisfying thanks to delicious sweet and spicy Asian flavors. The distinctive flavor of sesame oil is enhanced by the sweetness of brown sugar and orange juice, and spiced up with some chile paste, ginger, and garlic. The salad is served cold, but I really prefer cooked tofu so instead of “raw” tofu as called for in the original recipe, I seasoned and broiled it to crisp it up a little and add more flavor.

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

This salad contains tofu and long soba noodles for a long life. Other than cooking those, which requires minimal hands on time, this is a quick weeknight meal to put together. The salad veggies include napa cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots and provide a nice crunch in contrast to the noodles and tofu. A bagged coleslaw mix could be substituted for the napa cabbage if you’re really in a rush. I’ll share another use for napa cabbage soon too so any leftovers don’t go to waste.

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

I want to wish all of The Dinner Pages readers a safe New Year’s celebration and a happy and healthy 2014! For this blog, which has only been around for 2 months, I hope to continue to bring you delicious, family friendly, and (mostly) healthy recipes. Let me know what you’d like to see more of and I will get cooking!

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

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Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light Complete Meals in Minutes)

Yield: 4-5 servings

Dressing:

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (or finely minced fresh garlic)

1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic

Salad:

1 package (12-14 ounces) firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes

nonstick cooking spray

salt and pepper

1 8-10 ounce package of soba noodles (can substitute whole wheat spaghetti)

half a head of napa (Chinese) cabbage (about 3-4 cups), thinly sliced

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

1. Prepare the salad dressing by placing the first 9 ingredients (under dressing) in a small mixing bowl and combining with a whisk. Set aside.

2. To prepare the tofu, coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cubes of tofu in a bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste. Transfer the cubes to the baking sheet and broil on high for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden, turning the cubes over once halfway through.

3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil then add the soba noodles and cook according to package directions, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse in cold water, then drain again.

4. In a large bowl, combine the tofu, noodles, cabbage, sprouts, carrot, and cilantro. Top with the dressing and toss together to combine.

Nutrition Information:

For 1/4 of the salad: 371 calories, 9 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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