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Lentil Soup and Fresh-Baked Bread

It’s raining outside.  It started raining yesterday on our way home from North Jersey.  It’s been raining ever since.  It’s melted all of the snow.  All of it.

But melted snow or not, it’s still cold outside.  Damp and cold.  Perfect soup weather.  And fresh-baked bread weather.

We had the perfect ham bone that just screamed for a pot of water and a couple of bay leaves.  It’s amazing how so little can give so much.  Victor made the soup.  I made the bread.

Quantities are mere estimates.  Add more or less of something.  It’s soup.  It’s flexible.

Victor’s Lentil Soup

Large Ham bone – most of the meat cut of and coarsely diced

Large pot of water

  • 3 cups Lentils
  • 4 stalks Celery, diced
  • 4 Carrots, diced
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, nimced
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves
  • S&P
  • Tabasco – to taste

Boil the ham bone with the bay leaves a couple of hours.

Add remaining ingredients (except the saved coarsely diced ham).

Simmer, uncovered, until lentils are cooked through.

Add S&P and a generous few splashes of Tabasco.

Remove bone and bay leaves.

Puree about a third of the soup and return to the pot.

Add the reserved ham and heat through.

While the soup was simmering, I made a loaf of bread.  I used the same recipe as a few days ago.  I formed it into a loaf and after brushing with the egg white and water, I generously sprinkled on sesame seeds.  This is a half-batch which makes one loaf:

French-Style Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (l00° to 115°, approximately)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose or hard-wheat flour
  • yellow cornmeal
  • 1 egg white, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Directions

Combine the yeast with sugar and warm water in a large bowl and allow to proof. Mix the salt with the flour and add to the yeast mixture, a cup at a time, until you have a stiff dough. Remove to a lightly floured board and knead until no longer sticky, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the surface with butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough. Turn out on a floured board and shape into a long, French bread-style loaf. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal but not buttered. Slash the top of the loaf diagonally in two or three places, and brush with the egg wash. Place in a cold oven, set the temperature at 400°, and bake 35 minutes, or until well browned and hollow sounding when the top is rapped.

This really is one of the easiest breads in the world to make.  It’s quick, easy, and foolproof.

So… Tomorrow we are actually going shopping together.  Victor hasn’t been up to the new Wegmans, yet.  This could be dangerous.

We’re specifically shopping for Tuesday dinner with Linda and David.  Prime Rib au jus, Yorkshire Pudding (instead of the popovers!), Dauphine Potatoes, Stuffed Zucchini, and Baked Alaska for dessert.  It’s going to be fun, because I haven’t made any of these things in quite a while.

The danger is the two of us in a grocery store together.  We’ve been known to spend the GNP of a few small emerging countries when shopping together, which is why I usually shop alone. (Not that I don’t keep the economy afloat by myself…)  And we even have a gift card.

It’s gonna be fun!

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