Soupy Rice, Kale and Lentils

After a string of sexy (or at least sweet and boozy) recipes, I’m bringing this blog back down to earth with the most mundane of dishes. Rice, kale, lentils, and broth. Could anything sound more ho hum? I can’t even describe this dish as a soup since, even if it starts out soup-like on day one, by day two the rice and lentils have slurped up so much of the broth that it has transformed itself into more of a risotto. So, here we are. It’s a very gray, very cold February. The roads are slushy and our food is soupy and also kind of gray.

That said, if you can get past this dishes indeterminate name, boring list of ingredients, and none-too-flattering photographs, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

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I had absolutely no intention of writing about this dish. I just wandered into the kitchen hoping to use up the kale that was slowly wilting in the refrigerator and warm up our drafty apartment. I didn’t write down what I was doing, just chopped up an onion, scrounged up the lentils and rice, and washed the kale hurriedly while the onion was browning. But, then Noah got home and yelled, “What are you cooking? It smells amazing.”

Then I took a bite, and, well, it’s much more complex than I expected. It’s got the umami-ish depth that comes from melting anchovies into your food. The wine gives it some tang (more so if it is edging its way toward vinegar as mine was). The lentils are toothy and make a bowl of this feel healthy enough for lunch even while the arborio rice makes it feel bone-sticking enough for February. I scribbled the recipe down on a napkin, but I’m moving it here for safe keeping. I’m sure I’ll be making more before the winter is over.

Soupy Rice, Kale, and Lentils

I had never combined arborio rice and lentils before and was pleasantly surprised that the experiment worked. They cooked at about the same rate and  the 1:1 ratio of lentils and rice really does move a rice based dish into something that feels much more healthy. 

– 2/3 cup arborio rice

– 2/3 cup puy lentils

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 small onion, chopped

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 4 anchovy filets

– 1/2 cup red wine

– Roughly 10-12 cups of chicken broth

– Roughly 10 ounces of kale, de-stemmed and finally chopped.

– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

– Red pepper flakes

* Bring broth to boil and then reduce to simmer.

* On a different burner, in a different, large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, give a few quick stirs. Add 4 anchovies and stir into onions breaking them up as you go.

* Add rice and lentils to onions. Stir until coated with oil and onions are evenly distributed throughout.

* Add wine to rice and lentils. Stir until wine is absorbed.

* Add 1 1/2 cups of broth to rice and lentils. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally.

* Reduce heat a little bit so it’s a medium low flame. When the first round of broth is absorbed, add more, about 1 1/2 cups at a time, stirring occasionally until broth is absorbed and then adding more. You are done when the lentils and risotto are just about the softness you like so taste occasionally as you go. (I like mine fairly chewy and it took about 40 minutes.) You should still have some broth when you are done.

* Stir in kale until it is just wilted.

* Turn off heat and stir in parmesan.

* Add the rest of the broth until it is as soupy as you want the dish to be. (This definitely walks the line between soup and risotto and you can decide which side of the line you want it on.)

* Serve sprinkled with red pepper flakes.

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