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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Scarborough Fair Soup

I have a lot of lentils and barley in the house, along with beans, rice and bulgur wheat. We have all that it takes for lots of high protein vegetarian meals. Still, the usual curried lentils and rice, or baked beans and mashed potatoes meals can seem a bit repetitive. Winter is soup weather, I think, no matter if it is snowing and blowing, or raining and misting. And even on the bright, cheerful days, when we want to be outdoors, it is great to come inside to a warm bowl of hearty soup.

Soup can be made in the crock pot, but I recommend getting it started and at boiling point in a kettle on the stove, and then transferring it. I would give this soup at least five hours in a crock pot, and two on the back of the stove at a low, simmering heat, once it has come to a boil.

I also have dried herbs from the summer garden, and winter storage vegetables - this is a way to use all of that. I added some mild sausage; a vegetarian sausage can be used, or add two tablespoons of olive oil. Legumes and grains don't have much flavour without some fat.

Equipment: Soup kettle or large pot; (slow cooker or crock pot for unattended cooking); butcher's block and knife; measures and spoons.

Ingredients: 2 quarts water or stock or a combination of both; 2 tablespoons dried parsley, one teaspoon dried sage; 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary; 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (vary amounts according to taste): 1/2 cup lentils; 1/2 cup barley (double if not using sausage); 1/2 pound mild sausage - I used Danish sausage locally made, or add 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1/2 large onion, one cup peeled and sliced carrots, one peeled and diced white potato.

Directions: Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, add the herbs, lentils and barley. Let simmer for at least half an hour. Add the sausage and vegetables, simmer at least one more hour. If using the crock pot, brown the sausage and onion before adding to the soup with the rest of the vegetables.

Cut the sausage into pieces before serving and return to the soup. I served this with homemade Irish soda bread (  one night, and then with boiled pasta and cubed cheese the next. (Spoon the cooked pasta into a soup bowl, top with a handful of cheese cubes, then pour the hot soup over it.) I did not add a photo of the finished soup because lentils and barley do not lend the most appetising colour to a finished soup. If you are put off by the grainy-gray look of it, sprinkle liberally with fresh or dried parsley.

Are you goin' to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.

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