Sunday, November 24, 2013

15-bean Vegetarian stew in a slow cooker

Today, I want to talk about now. No stories, no memories.

A couple weeks ago, a recipe of Panchmel Dal that I's submitted to a fabulous event called My Legume Love Affair, first started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook was chosen to be a winner of the giveaway. As a result, I became the proud owner of a gift basket sponsored by Hurst Beans.  Then, in a separate pack, Susan sent me this great looking soup spoon. I couldn't wait to try the great bean selections I'd got.

My Gift from Hurst Beans courtesy Hurst Beans.

But it was Diwali time. With all the other things going on, my plans got pushed to the background. However, a day before Diwali, on Dhanteras, I bought myself a Gordon Ramsay 4.5Qt. slow cooker. The goal is to test a few Indian recipes adapted for the crock pot, to ease the pain of cooking dinner on busy week days. But the first thing I tried on it was the 15-bean soup mix from my MLLA gift bag.  I started with a whole load of trepidation. Read through a bunch of recipes on the net, and then figured that I had to close my eyes and take the plunge...or I'd never try it out.

And the result...I am hooked. It's easy to put together, and lovely to come home to a meal ready to eat. There doesn't seem to be a right or wrong way to go about cooking in a slow cooker. This is how I did it.

  1. Start with pre-soaked beans- a step I actually forgot. A hasty web search revealed the quick soak method, which is what I resorted to. 1 cup of dry beans were soaked in 2 cups of boiling water for 1hr. Then discard that water. Add 2 cups of fresh water + 2 cups V8 vegetable juice in the slow cooker.
  2. Added 1 cup of chopped vegetables. I had zucchini, peas and carrots.
  3. I also added 1 onion and 1/2 a can of chopped diced tomatoes.
  4. The beans came with a package of Italian seasoning. I added 1/2 a pack of that, plus 1Tbsp of salt.
  5. Cooked on high for 8h.
  6. In the last 30 min. of cooking time, I added 1 cup of precooked medium shell pasta to the soup.
My two cents: We went shopping- and when we came back, the whole house was filled with this amazing, tantalizing aroma that set our stomachs growling.  A sprinkle of cheese for the kids, a dash of ground black pepper for me; and that was our dinner that night. Even my picky first-born declared that I'd finally mastered how to cook Olive Garden's minestrone :-)

For me, the biggest satisfaction was that she polished off her bowl, and ate the leftovers for lunch the next day- without complaints. 

The next realization came that this soup had absolutely no oil in it. That must reduce the calorific intake somewhat. Since then, I've made two other lentils in the slow cooker- Indian style- and the absence of oil does not seem to make any difference at all. But more on that later. For now, I'm gloating in the success of this soup.

Linked to:

  1. Flavours of USA and Canada Event at Simply Food
  2. Come on Chefs: cook up some soups and breads event
  3. Souper Sunday at Kahakai kitchen
  4. Spotlight: Continental Food