A few nights ago we were watching the Food Network and Good Eats came on. It was the Pantry Raid: Lentil episode, which I had seen before, but I sat through it anyway. The next evening I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner (the story of my life) and I remembered Good Eats. For some reason we had a lot of different kinds of lentils in the pantry so I decided to take some inspiration from AB and make lentil soup. I came up with a recipe that was not only delicious but VERY Weight Watchers friendly as well. As a matter of fact, it was so good that we scrapped the bowl and wished I had made twice the amount and our son inhaled a bowlful.
Lentil Soup with Ham
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup brown lentils, dry
4 cups good chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
3oz cooked ham, finely chopped
In a pressure cooker, heat up the oil over medium and cook the chopped onion until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the lentils and chicken broth, stir. Place the lid on the pressure cooker, turn the heat to high. When the pressure cooker has reached full pressure, turn the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Carefully let out the remaining pressure.
Add the salt, pepper and spices. Blend with an immersion (stick) blender for approximately 30 seconds. If you use a traditional blender, let the soup cool down a bit before blending and work in batches. Add the ham and cook uncovered for a further 3 or 4 minutes.
(This is NOT AB's recipe)
I don't know why anyone wouldn't have a pressure cooker but if you don't, you can just cook the lentils in a saucepan until they are tender, about 45 minutes and then proceed as per the recipe. This soup was so freaking good that I actually made it again last night and I am eating leftovers as I type this.
I know a lot of people are afraid of pressure cookers because they think they are dangerous. This reputation is not entirely unjustified, pressure cookers used to be fairly fickle. However, they have come a long way and modern pressure cookers are quite safe and probably nothing like what your grandmother used to use. I have two pressure cookers and they are vastly different. One of them is the most basic type. It does not have a pressure gate or any other fancy gadgets. It has a weight that goes on the steam/pressure release nozzle. Once it has achieved pressure it lets out the excess pressure though that nozzle and it hisses and makes the weight "dance". This weight is actually removable. Come think of it, I need to replace the rubber seal. The other pressure cooker is a fancy job I got because it was so damned cool and the lid was green. It has a gauge (which I never really look at since I always want the highest pressure) and the weight is not removable. It has a fancy locking mechanism and looks kickass on my range. It is also huge so I don't use it often. I wouldn't be a good Cuban if I didn't have at least pressure cooker.
BTW, this recipe is about 3 or 4 WW points per serving.