That sort of extrapolation is exactly what has happened with my cooking, and I find it exciting. I have reached the point at which I can think about recipes and techniques I have already used and create something new, or, even better, something familiar. I think that I am even getting to the point at which I can look at a recipe someone did not care for and see why it did not work.
So the time came to make another batch of lentil soup, and, horror of horrors, I couldn't find the recipe that I usually use (at least as a starting point). This happened before my discovery of eatyourbooks.com, so I had to search my cookbook collection the old fashioned way. I checked Moosewood and The Joy of Cooking and Marcella and Julia and a few others. No luck. My usual lentil soup recipe was not to be found.
What's a hungry cook to do?
Improvise, of course.
|Ingredients waiting to be chopped|
I chopped up the magical trifecta that is mirepoix -- celery, onion and carrot -- along with a bit of garlic, added salt and pepper, and sauteed the lot in some olive oil, using Lynne Rosetto-Kasper's recommended method of lower heat and a covered pot for a longer period of time (15 minutes as opposed to about 5). When things started to stick to the bottom of the pan -- an occurrence which I believe to be caused by my preference of using less than the recommended amount of oil for sauteing -- I deglazed with a generous splash of white wine.
Returning to the lentil soup at hand, while the magical mirepoix was sauteeing, I finished chopping up the rest of the vegetables -- mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini. Then I added a few tablespoons of tomato paste, paprika and some other herbs to the mirepoix and stirred everything until well mixed.
P.S. Just as I did when making the soup, I almost forgot the prosciutto. I love prosciutto. It's less fatty and more delicate than bacon. If I hadn't forgotten it, I would have sauteed it briefly in a pan and then added it toward the end of the mirepoix sauteeing step. But I did forget it until I was at the bring to boil step, so I tossed it in then, and it worked its salty, savory magic just as well.
If you are a big fan of meat, the piggy, savory sorts work well in this soup -- ham, kielbasa, linguisa, other sausage (though it probably doesn't need to be pork sausage).