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lentil soup and crescent rolls

This week I decided to switch my grocery shopping from Saturday to Wednesday, which means that today and tomorrow I get to catch up on things I didn’t make from the menu last week. I have no idea where my head was last week, but we ended up improvising or eating out several nights. I am a huge fan of pea soup, and I was really excited to a new recipe! I chopped all my vegetables and some turkey ham, and was ready to throw everything in the slow cooker when I realized that I was totally out of dried peas! Not one to give up on a delicious dinner, I threw in some lentils instead and hoped for the best. The soup actually turned out great, although I did have to add a little extra liquid (about 2 cups). I really love any kind of dried legume (peas, lentils, beans, etc.) and this was definitely the best lentil soup I’ve ever made or eaten. I can’t wait to try it this fall/winter with dried peas as well. To go with the soup, I made delicious crescent rolls. They’re light and soft and wonderful. I thought it was an awesome dinner, even if it was roughly 9,000 degrees outside and heating up the oven turned my house into a sauna. Maybe I’m just hoping that if I start eating like it’s fall, it will actually become fall.

Lentil Soup
adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 cup lentils
1/2 cup medium pearl barley (not quick-cooking barley)
2 cups chopped ham
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
6 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf

In a medium bowl or liquid measure, combine the water, bouillon cubes and spices and whisk to combine (it’s ok if the bouillon cubes don’t completely dissolve).

In a medium round slow cooker (about 4-quart), layer lentils, barley, ham, carrots, onion and celery. Do not mix. Pour in the water/spices mixture and add the bay leaf to the slow cooker. Don’t stir! Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or on low eight hours, until the peas reach the desired creamy, soft texture. Remove the bay leaf, stir well, and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve immediately. Upon sitting and/or refrigerating, this soup thickens considerably. Simply add water or chicken broth to thin the soup to the desired consistency before reserving.

Cornmeal Crescent Rolls
Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

2 cups milk
2/3 cup yellow corn meal
1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
5 ½ – 6 cups flour

Heat the milk to just below a boil so bubbles are just appearing around the edges (this is called scalding milk). Add the cornmeal and cook and stir until thickened, lowering the temperature if needed so the mixture doesn’t boil (see picture below the recipe for an idea of what the consistency should be). Pour the cornmeal/milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Add the yeast, butter and sugar (if you dissolved active dry yeast with a bit of water and sugar until it foamed, add it now). Mix. Add the salt and eggs. Mix well. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms. Knead for 5-8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl covered with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Divide the dough into three portions and roll each into about an 8-10 inch circle. Brush the top lightly with butter. Cut into 8 wedges and roll each wedge up starting from the wide end so it forms a crescent roll shape. Place each roll on a lightly greased or silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1-2 inches apart to allow for rising. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush with butter while still warm.

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