Hearty Farro and Lentil Vegetable Soup.

Welcome to this recipe. Here’s some hot hot info on cooking with parmesan rind.

If you buy parmesan cheese “the old-fashioned way,” a.k.a. you buy a real hunk of cheese and not the pre-shredded or grated stuff, you MUST start saving the rinds in the freezer. I keep a little plastic bag in the door of my freezer for them, because they’re an amazing ingredient. Cheese rind has all the same flavor as the cheese itself, so when I’m making a soup or a sauce, I throw in one (or three) bits of parmesan rind during the simmer stage and let all that parmesan-ness permeate into the dish while it cooks. It’s an amazing flavor trick AND it recycles something you would have otherwise thrown away. And given the beautiful plant-based nature of this soup, you might as well offset a bit of the damage your cheese (i.e. a cattle product) ingredient inflicts on the earth by recycling part of it!

Hearty Farro and Lentil Soup with Turmeric, Parmesan, and Kale | Kelly in the Kitchen | Ingredients: butter or olive oil, onion, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper, stock or broth, bay leaf, farro, lentils, kale, parmesan rind (optional)

INGREDIENTS

butter or olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8-ish cups stock or broth (honestly guys I almost never measure stock, so just eyeball it. Also, I use homemade chicken stock, but vegetable stock will do the trick if you want to keep this vegetarian/vegan)
1 bay leaf
1 cup farro, rinsed
1 cup lentils, picked clean and rinsed
optional: parmesan rind (obvi this is not vegan so feel free to leave out. Or, if you love the flavor of parmesan as much as I do, add as much rind as you want)
1 heaping cup kale, washed, stems removed, chopped
good quality olive oil

DIRECTIONS

In a large stock pot, heat butter or olive oil over medium low and add onion, zucchini, and garlic. Cook until starting to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until veggies start to soften.

Add turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper, and stir. Cook about 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant. Stir in the stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add farro and lentils. Bring back to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and partially cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just tender and the farro is cooked but still chewy. Add the kale and cook just until softened, only a few minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove bay leaf and fish out the melted parmesan rind bits.

Hearty Farro and Lentil Soup with Turmeric, Parmesan, and Kale | Kelly in the Kitchen | Ingredients: butter or olive oil, onion, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper, stock or broth, bay leaf, farro, lentils, kale, parmesan rind (optional)

Mandatory: serve with a drizzle of good quality olive oil. Actually, “drizzle” is far too dainty a word for the amount of olive oil I add when I eat this soup. Some kind of magic happens when all those flavors get together. Enjoy.

Hearty Farro and Lentil Soup with Turmeric, Parmesan, and Kale | Kelly in the Kitchen | Ingredients: butter or olive oil, onion, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper, stock or broth, bay leaf, farro, lentils, kale, parmesan rind (optional)

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Split Pea Soup with Bengali Spices.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for a while now (pretty sure I’ve been making it for almost a year!). One of my best friends, who is an amazingly creative cook, gifted me a batch of her Bengali spice mix, called panch phoron. I started using it in split pea soup, and it is SO GOOD. The spices get toasted and give a really interesting and savory flavor to the already-wonderful classic split pea. This stuff is great fresh or as leftovers, and it freezes well, too, so you can definitely make a big batch and pop half in the freezer. Pair it with almost any garnish you can think of–my favorites include fresh herbs, grated cheese, toasty buttery croutons, or a poached egg. So without further ado, one of my favorite soups…Split Pea with Bengali Spices!

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

INGREDIENTS
bacon fat (butter or olive oil will work also, of course)
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp Bengali spice mix (see below)
2 cups cooked ham, chopped
1 lb split peas 5-7 cups stock or water
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

for panch phoron spice mix (equal parts of all spices):
fenugreek seed
nigella seed
mustard seed
cumin seed
fennel seed

DIRECTIONS

Add bacon fat to a Dutch oven or other large soup pot over medium low heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and stir. Cook until softened and just starting to brown. Use a large spoon to move all the vegetables to the side of the pan. Put a bit more fat in the pan and add the spice mix. Stir into the oil and cook until fragrant–just a few minutes–and be careful not to burn.

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

When the spices are cooked, stir them into the vegetables. Pour in the stock or water, ham, thyme, and split peas. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the split peas are softened. When the soup is done cooking, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh parsley and serve hot!

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

Though you may be tempted to eat it all up right away, this soup is PERFECTION as a leftover. The flavors get even better when they have a few days to develop.

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork.

Pulled pork is legendary. I could probably eat it a few times a week. But its 4-6 hour cooking time can be brutally long, especially on a weeknight, when you’d have to be nuts to attempt it. Four to 6 hours cooking after work means either a midnight meal or a “creative solution,” and that’s what I’ve got for ya here. Complete with its own quick homemade sauce, this one-pot dish cooks on the stove top and is ready to go (even if you’re a slow recipe-maker!) in under an hour. Now of course, this isn’t the same as the 6-hour slow-cooked version, but it’s tender and flavorful and still makes for awesome leftovers the next day. And the day after. And it’s an excuse to eat some of my favs – coleslaw and refried beans!

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork by KellyintheKitchen | 2 tbsp butter, olive oil, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic, salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 lb boneless pork loin roast

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp butter
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup ketchup
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 lb boneless pork loin roast, cut into 4 pieces

DIRECTIONS

Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid over medium heat. Melt the butter (plus a splash of olive oil to keep the butter from burning) and add the onion, cooking until soft and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and salt and cook another minute, careful not to burn the garlic. Add the cayenne pepper, cumin, and ground coriander. Stir and toast the spices for about a minute.

When the spices are fragrant (and you feel like you might sneeze from the smell of the cayenne pepper), add the ketchup, stock or water, brown sugar, thyme, and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil and then add the pork to the pot. Cover the pot and keep at an active simmer for about 25 minutes. I flipped the pieces of pork over halfway through.

When the pork is tender and cooked through, remove it to a plate. Turn up the heat so that the sauce comes to a steady boil and let it bubble away until thickened a bit – I let mine go for about 15 minutes.

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork | KellyintheKitchen Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork | KellyintheKitchen

Let the meat cool until it’s not too hot to work with, and then shred it with two forks. It won’t shred as easily as the slow-cooked kind—don’t worry, just power through it. Toss the pork in the sauce and serve!

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork by KellyintheKitchen | 2 tbsp butter, olive oil, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic, salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 lb boneless pork loin roast

Balsamic Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables and Lentils.

Can we talk about lentils? Why don’t we eat more lentils in this life we lead? I realize I’m speaking for you, readers, when really I should just speak for myself…maybe you eat a lot of lentils already, or maybe you’re allergic to lentils and I’m being insensitive to your needs. Sorry. But everyone else, why aren’t lentils a bigger part of our lives?! They are cheap, good for you, SO easy to make, and incredibly versatile. They can be the star of a dish, the sidekick, or the background canvas for another ingredient’s greatness. And let me repeat how cheap they are. Most stores in my neighborhood sell a pound bag of lentils for less than a dollar, and since they do plump when you cook ’em, you end up with a LOT of lentils for very little money. They are also a great high-protein substitute for rice if that’s your thang, and since you prepare them basically the same way you prepare rice, it’s not hard to learn to make lentils. Also they taste great. Are you convinced? Good. Make this. IMG_1270 INGREDIENTS

for chicken:
3 small chicken breasts
fav all-purpose spice rub (there are 2 kinds of people: those who know that Back-of-the-Yards rub from the Spice House is the best seasoning ever, and those who haven’t tried it yet)
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
butter

for lentils:
1/2 lb lentils
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
pinch of parsley
pinch of rosemary
pinch of thyme

for veggies:
1/4 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups spinach leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
lemon juice (optional)

DIRECTIONS

IMG_1281 I believe marinades are an art, not a science. With that in mind, have a bowl or plastic bag handy and rub the chicken breasts with some spice rub and salt and pepper. Put the chicken in the bowl or bag and pour in a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Let this concoction marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or as long as overnight.

The lentils take a little while, so get them going next. Sort through and pick out any stones or weird looking ones, and rinse the remaining beauties. In a small pot, combine lentils, chicken stock, water, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook until tender, and drain any remaining liquid. Set the lentils aside.

When you’re almost ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 F.

To cook the chicken, heat a skillet or other stove-to-oven-safe pan over medium high heat. Add some butter to the pan and let it melt, and then add the chicken breasts. I like to move each one around a little bit in the butter so that I know they’ve all had their turn in the good stuff. Make sure the chicken breasts are not touching or crowded too closely (we don’t want them to steam or braise).

When one side of the chicken has browned nicely, flip the chicken over and get some color on the second side. Once you’ve got some good color on both sides, turn off the heat and finish cooking the chicken all the way through in the oven. It’s done when the center is white, not pink, and the juices run clear. Remove from the pan and set chicken aside.

But don’t do anything to that wonderful pan! It has awesome flavor in it from the chicken. So put the pan back on the stove and turn the heat to medium low. It should still be a pretty hot pan, so add the onions, carrots, and garlic, and stir around to pick up the beautiful browned bits of flavor. Cook until softened and add the spinach, cooking just until wilted. Squeeze over a bit of lemon juice if you like.

Then add the lentils into the pan and stir to create a beautiful mottled mosaic of colorful veggies. Taste for salt and pepper, and then top with your chicken breasts for a gorgeous, rustic meal!

IMG_1284 This lasted me a few days of lunches at work, and man was it good. Lentils are just awesome. IMG_1236

Czech Goulash: Updated Recipe.

Four years ago when I went to Prague, I ordered a dish of goulash at a little restaurant near our hostel. It was my first taste of goulash–my first heavenly taste of that paprika-y, hearty stuff–and I’ve loved it ever since. In fact, my goulash might be the first recipe I ever made that I can claim as a Kelly original. That recipe has lived through a few delicious incarnations as I’ve re-worked it through the years; I think this posting is the third version. And it’s by far my favorite. I’ve kept it simple and focused on my favorite flavors, most importantly the deep deep warmth of paprika, which absolutely rocks on a chilly winter day. An homage to my Bohemian relatives and a sweet memory of my trip to Prague, here is my updated recipe for Czech goulash!

Czech Goulash | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, bay leaf, 2 lb stew beef, cubed, 3 cloves garlic, 3-4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp dried thyme, 15 oz canned crushed tomato, 4-6 cups cold water or stock, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp corn starch, and garnishes: sour cream, green onion, marjoram/parsley

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
bay leaf
2 lb stew beef, cubed
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tsp paprika
2 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried thyme
15 oz canned crushed tomato
4-6 cups cold water or stock
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp corn starch
sour cream, green onion, and marjoram or parsley for serving

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil over medium in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and bay leaf, and cook until transparent. Then add the beef and cook until browned.

Stir in the garlic, paprika, thyme, and caraway seed. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

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Pour in the tomatoes and 4 cups of stock and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if necessary.

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After 2 1/2 hours, stir in the corn starch. Cook for another hour at least; I like to cook the goulash for a total of 4-5 hours if I have the time. We’re going for fall-apart tender beef that could almost float away in the broth/gravy/stew juices (or whatever they’re called).

Remove from heat and fish out the bay leaf. Serve with a scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion and parsley or marjoram. This stuff is amazing right out of the pot and only gets better as it sits in the fridge!

Czech Goulash | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, bay leaf, 2 lb stew beef, cubed, 3 cloves garlic, 3-4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp dried thyme, 15 oz canned crushed tomato, 4-6 cups cold water or stock, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp corn starch, and garnishes: sour cream, green onion, marjoram/parsley

Meaty Chili with Beans and Kale.

Yes, along with every recipe blog out there, I’m celebrating that it’s fall: time for soups and stews! But I’ll tell you up front: this chili post isn’t what you think. I’m sorry, chili lovers, but I’m about to get weird on you. Look at the last ingredient before the toppings—it’s kale. In chili. If that sounds too freakishly non-traditional to you, you’re probably right. I’ve never heard of someone putting kale in chili before either. But I felt like it had to be done. I had all this nice kale in the fridge and thought, it’s just so good for you, I should punch up the veggie credentials of my chili with a bunch o’ the good green stuff. I chopped it up tiny so that it would be inconspicuous and just stirred in near the end of the whole chili process, and it really flies under the radar. I like it. And if you saw my previous post on chili, you might recall that I’m a freak for toppings—well, nothing’s changed. So whip this up, pat yourself on the back for throwing in some kale, and dollop on another spoonful of sour cream.

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INGREDIENTS

olive oil
butter
1 lb stew beef, cubed
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste – this will be spicy-ish, but not crazy)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped (I used frozen multi-colored peppers – any color you like will do)
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 can pinto beans
1/3 cup strong coffee (saw this in an Ina Garten recipe – really interesting!)
1 cup kale, finely chopped
toppings: onion, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips–the list goes on! This chili rocks with a scoop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and some chopped onion.

Just the Recipe link: Meaty Chili with Beans and Kale

DIRECTIONS

Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid over medium high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and a bit of butter to the pot and brown the beef. I did this in two batches: put half the beef in the pot in a single layer, without letting the pieces touch each other, and let it sit without stirring or moving until browned. Then flip each cube of beef over and brown the other side. Remove the beef to a plate once it’s gotten some color (don’t worry about cooking it all the way through) and add the second half of the beef to the pot, repeating the same process until all the beef has been browned. Set aside.

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Turn the heat down to medium low. In the same pot, add the onions and garlic and a bit of salt, which will keep the onions from browning too quickly. Cook until softened but not browned and then add the oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and red pepper. Stir and cook for a minute, just until the spices are fragrant.

Pour in the tomatoes, bell pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, and add the beef back to the pot.

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Bring the chili to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Put the lid on the pot and cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and checking to made sure the chili has enough liquid – I ended up adding about 1 1/2 cup of water partway through the process, to keep things nice and juicy.

After 2 1/2 hours, add the coffee, beans, and kale. Cook another 10-15 minutes or so, until the kale is cooked.

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That’s it! Dress up the chili with some toppings and dig in. Worth noting: this was good when I tried it immediately, but it was even better the next day. PRIME leftovers food right here!

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