I might need to make a new tag for "hotel cuisine." We've made some pretty decent meals when we travel, thanks to our usually-amazing accommodations at the extended stay hotels we use. I was intrigued to find some recipes in this, my first-ever, issue of Consumer Reports Food & Fitness magazine. This one in particular comes from a section that focuses on how to reduce the salt, sugar, and fat in our daily diets. Sounds good!
This soup was a sort of experiment. First, I never make anything in this great a quantity when we travel, so finding storage containers for leftovers was a minor challenge. Bonus: I got to test its freezability at the same time. :) Also, the recipe doesn't call for any salt. For a family that's been eating at restaurants for 2 out of 3 meals for more than the past week, that could've come as a giant tastebud shock. Rather than possibly waste the whole recipe on my men for dinner one night, I made this for lunch. The little guy said he loves lentils ("they're so cuuute and tiny, right Mom?!"), but he needed to eat before it was done, so he had leftovers from dinner last night.
Lentil and Spinach Soup
from Consumer Reports Food & Fitness, March 2012
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (this is very hard to do with incredibly dull hotel knives)
2 cups uncooked lentils (Whole Foods had these on sale!)
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 sprig (2-3 inches) fresh rosemary
1 (7-oz) package baby spinach
2 large tomatoes, chopped (heirloom ones were so pretty I couldn't resist!)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook 5 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring often.
2. Add lentils, broth, water, and rosemary. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
3. Stir in spinach and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig and stir in pepper.
I love the natural light from our 19th-floor hotel room; much better than in my east-facing kitchen. :)
Since I prefer a thicker stew-like lentil soup, I only used 3 cups of the water called for. And since there isn't any other seasoning beyond the small quantity of pepper and rosemary, I more than doubled both and left the rosemary needles in. Without increasing those two ingredients, the soup would've been mighty bland. I was almost instantly regretting my choice of low-sodium broth as I taste-tested at the end of the cooking time.
Making this for my lunch(es) was the right choice. The H and little guy would've griped about it for sure. I added a hefty squirt of lemon and some Parmesan/Romano/Asiago curls from Trader Joe's to my portion. Those greatly improved the flavor and brightened up what could've been a giant waste of ingredients. If I were to make this at home, I'd probably add some chopped carrots when sauteeing the onion, and some kosher or sea salt at the very end.