Friday, February 22, 2008

Potatoes/ Lentil Soup Recipe

The white potato has gotten a bad rap. Maybe I am biased because I was raised on an Irish influenced meat and potatoes diet. And by potatoes, I mean russet potatoes. I didn't experience Sweet, Red Bliss or Yukon Gold until college or later. But russet potatoes baked, mashed, boiled, or folded into potato salad - I experienced a lot. They were on my plate most every night from the time I started eating solid food. I ate a looooooot of mashed potatoes. But, instant mashed potatoes? Never! I was led to believe this was something evil, like lying to your parents or chewing gum in church. I have a vivid memory of leaving Thanksgiving Dinner at a relatives house where instant mashed potatoes were served (a relative from my father's French side of the family, of course) and my mother acted as though she had been directly insulted.

You'd think I might be sick of these root vegetables most commonly known as products from Idaho or Maine. But, that is just not the case. While I gave up the meat part of my meat and potatoes diet almost 20 years ago, russet potatoes have never been far from my plate. To this day, I find it difficult to eat a sandwich without some potato chips on the side. I recently discovered at my high school reunion that I passed this same affliction onto my best childhood friend. Today, the potato chips are organic, accented with sea salt, void of trans-fats and sometimes even made with blue potatoes, but they are still keeping my sandwich company. My mashed potatoes are made with Yukon Gold and potato salad with Red Bliss, but Russet still have their place. They are in the lentil soup simmering on my stove this very minute (see below).

I realize white things, as a general rule, are not as good for you as non-white things. Brown rice is better than white, whole grain bread better than spongy Wonder bread, flax pasta better than traditional Prince spaghetti, and hence, lovely orange sweet potatoes better than white. But, I am here to take a stand for the white potato! Are they not a good source of Vitamin C and Potassium? While eating them every night next to your pork chop may not be the way to go, please don't turn your nose up at the Russet for good. It is a lovely addition to many comfort foods.

Lentil Stew
1 tblsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 large RUSSET potato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of green lentils
6 cups of vegetable broth broth
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups (or more) of kale or fresh spinach, chopped into small bits
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme (or oregano)
1 tblsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Sautee onion, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil for a few minutes until onions are transluscent.
2. Add vegetable broth, lentils, potato, tomatoes, and spices. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until potatoes and lentils are tender (30ish minutes). Add some hot water if necessary.
3. Add spinach or kale, salt, pepper and vinegar. Let simmer another 10 minutes.

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