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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Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread Bars.

Pretzels: hands-down, a top-5 snack food. So simple, so good, so surprisingly versatile (just ask Auntie Anne). For me, pretzels get really interesting when you think of them as an ingredient, as the start of something, rather than the end of it. I’ve posted a pretzel-transformation recipe before, and I wasn’t surprised to discover that other bloggers had the same idea. Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen has got a real knack with pretzels, as evidenced by these insane pancakes.  And Molly from My Name is Yeh‘s pretzel shortbread cookies looked so good, I barely changed anything in the riff I’m sharing with you today–just a slight tweak in ingredients and process. But it’s an important change, where I sub in one of my all-time favorite ingredients besides pretzels: brown sugar. Damn. Enjoy.

Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | KellyintheKitchen.net | pretzels, butter, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, canola oil

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
200 g pretzels (any kind)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp canola oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Start by making the “pretzel flour.” Using a food processor (or a plastic bag and a rolling pin, if you’re very patient), pulverize the pretzels until they are utterly dusted. It should look like light brown flour. **Don’t underestimate this step; it took me at least 20 minutes to process the pretzels, pass the flour through a sifter to catch the bigger crumbs, process those crumbs again, and repeat the whole thing. And don’t skip this step – if you have big crunchy crumbs in your batter, it will make for weirdly crunchy, sandy-textured cookies. If it doesn’t take you as long to get to the flour stage, then you’ve got a better food processor than I do.**

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.

Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | KellyintheKitchen.net | pretzels, butter, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, canola oil

Stir the pretzel flour and all-purpose flour into the butter mixture. Eat a tiny bite of the batter, because it’s sooooo good.

Press the somewhat crumbly batter into whatever pan you’re using (I used what I think of as a “brownie pan”) so that it’s evenly packed. Then, use a knife to cut the batter into bars. Do this before you bake, because if you try to cut them after baking, you’ll probably end up with a pan full of crumbs. Poke a few holes in the tops of the bars with a fork (make a pattern if you’re feeling cute).

Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | KellyintheKitchen.net | pretzels, butter, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, canola oil

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until just starting to brown. Savor the scent of your kitchen…it will smell divine.

When the bars are done baking, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to retrace the lines you cut before the bars baked; it should be easy to do. Let cool completely in the pan.

Once the bars are cool, melt the chocolate chips and oil together in a small bowl. I popped them in the microwave for about 40 seconds, stirring halfway through, but you can use a double boiler if you’re fancy. Take a spoon and drizzle the chocolate in whatever pattern you want. I went for free-form marble and I’m pretty happy with it.

Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | KellyintheKitchen.net | pretzels, butter, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, canola oil

Let the chocolate set. That’s it! Enjoy the salty-savory-sweetness.