Friday, September 08, 2006

Some of our favorites...

I promised to share a few of our favorite recipes for complementary-protein type meals, so want to get started with that today. I mentioned corn chowder as one of our favorites, and indeed it would be hard to find a more economical meal. I assume most people know how to make this soup, but in case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s how I make


Use a heavy kettle or Dutch oven that will hold enough soup to feed your family. Chop 1 or 2 onions and, if you like (though these aren’t “traditional” ingredients) you can also chop a couple of celery ribs and shred a couple of carrots. Saute´these in your heavy kettle in some butter or (my choice) canola or olive oil. You won’t need much -- maybe a couple of tablespoons. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender. Now, peel and dice as many potatoes as you need to feed your family. I would probably use at least four medium potatoes. Now add hot water to nearly cover the potatoes. Add a few shakes of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add 1 (15 oz.) can of whole kernel corn, undrained, 1 (15 oz.) can of cream style corn, and 1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk. If you have a large family or a large kettle, you can add one more can of each. Heat through and add salt & pepper to taste. If you enjoy the flavor of herbs, a sprinkle of thyme and/or marjoram go nicely with corn chowder. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

This would be great with whole wheat or multigrain bread. If you are feeding even heartier appetites, you could serve the chowder with grilled cheese sandwiches or tuna melts.

Here are two more “soup suppers” which utilize complementary protein and are just wonderful, especially for fall and winter meals.


1 to 2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, shredded
3/4 tsp. crumbled marjoram
1/2 tsp. crumbled thyme
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
7 cups beef broth (I use the beef bouillon granules with water)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, picked over, rinsed
1/2 tsp pepper
Shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Add the onions, carrots, marjoram and thyme. Saute´, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the onions are tender. Add the tomatoes, broth and lentils. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce the heat, cover the kettle, and simmer the soup for at least 1 hour or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the pepper. Serve soup with shredded Cheddar sprinkled over each portion. (Or put a bowl of shredded Cheddar on the table for people to add at their own discretion.) Yield: 8 servings.

The cheese completes the protein in the lentils here, but you could also serve the soup with corn bread or some other bread to serve the same purpose. I nearly always serve corn bread with lentil soup.


1 pound dried green or yellow split peas
6 cups water
4 cups chicken or beef broth (I use bouillon granules with water)
1 cup chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups diced potatoes
2 large carrots, peeled & diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Dash of hot pepper sauce

In a heavy kettle or Dutch oven, combine the peas and water. Bring the water to a boil, and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove the kettle from the heat, cover it, and let the peas stand for 1 hour. Add the broth, celery, onion, potatoes and carrots. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce the heat, cover the kettle, and simmer the soup for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The peas will disintegrate. If the soup seems to be overly thick (and it is supposed to be fairly thick), you can thin it to your taste with additional broth. Stir in the seasonings and serve. Yield: 6 servings.

I had always seen pea soup as a real production, usually involving a ham bone and starting the day before. This recipe proved to me that it doesn’t have to be that way. You could add a small amount of diced ham or bacon bits if you wanted to, but it is by no means necessary. The soup even has a sort of smoky flavor without them. It is delicious just as it is. Corn bread is traditional with pea soup in New England.

Both the lentil soup and the split pea soup recipes were adapted from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK.


3 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 15-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained (may use 2 cups frozen corn if preferred)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper (freshly ground if possible)
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies, undrained
1 small jar of chopped pimiento, drained

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the paprika and mix them well. Pour the mixture into a greased 2-qt. casserole. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350º for 40 to 45 minutes. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This wonderful recipe comes from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK. The only change I made was to use less cheese. The original calls for 2 cups rather than one. This is a casserole we ate a LOT during our “meatless weekdays” years ago.


1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced (OR [my choice] 1 can diced tomatoes)
1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 16-oz. can beans (kidney, black, or garbanzo) drained and rinsed
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups hot cooked rice (start it cooking before you begin the sauce)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet; add the onion and garlic and saute´them until they are soft. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and oregano. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes or until the zucchini is crisp-tender. Add the beans and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally until it is nicely heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 4 servings.

To serve, spoon the rice into a large serving bowl (I use a large pasta bowl) and spoon the vegetable mixture over the hot rice. Sprinkle with cheese.

This dish is absolutely delicious. I almost always use canned diced tomatoes in this recipe, believing it almost a sin to use fresh tomatoes in a cooked dish. This also comes from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK.

I also mentioned in a previous post that baked beans and brown bread is a meatless meal we often used. Baked beans are traditional Saturday-night fare here in New England. The following is my grandmother’s recipe for baked beans. (Note: You must start the night before by soaking the beans.)


1 pound dry beans (Gram’s choice was either soldier beans or yellow eyes)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 large onion
2 Tblsp. sugar
1/3 cup molasses (or you can use pure maple syrup)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp, pepper
2 1/2 tsp. salt
If desired, pieces of bacon or salt pork or even a dribble of oil

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. (Be sure to use plenty of water and use a large container, because the beans are going to swell as they soak.)

In the morning, drain off the water and place the soaked beans in a large kettle or saucepan. Add hot water to cover and stir in the baking soda. Bring the beans to a boil and simmer them until the skins of the beans break when blown on.

Place the onion in the bottom of a bean pot or large (at least 3-quart) casserole dish. Drain the beans and pour them over the onion. Now combine the sugar, molasses and seasonings -- I usually mix them in a measuring cup -- and drizzle this over the beans. You can add the bacon, or whatever, at this point, but it isn’t a crucial ingredient. Now pour hot water over everything to cover the beans. Cover the pot or casserole and bake the beans all day (6 to 8 hours) at 300ºF. Check beans every couple of hours and add more hot water if the top looks dry.

Maybe you would prefer to “bake” your beans in a slow cooker, and I have a great recipe for this type of beans as well. An elderly lady in our church would always bring these to covered-dish dinners, and they were always a favorite. (Note: these cook for 24 hours, and you also need to soak the beans for several hours or overnight prior to cooking. So plan accordingly!)


3 cups dried Jacob’s cattle beans (these are speckled and ringstraked!)
1/2 lb. salt pork (totally optional. I never use it.)
1 to 3 tsp. salt (to your taste)
1 1/2 cups sugar (I personally only use a scant cup)
2 Tblsp. molasses
1 onion
Dash of ginger
Dash of dry mustard

Soak the beans for several hours or overnight or in water to cover. Then drain them and place in slow cooker with all of the remaining ingredients. Add water to the level of the beans. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours, then on Low for 22 hours.

Brown bread is wonderful with baked beans, but corn bread is also good. I’ve shared my corn bread recipe here in a previous post, so here is the brown bread recipe I’ve always used. (Traditional brown bread is steamed in cans, so the slices come out round and moist. This is a quicker way and quite delicious.) My kids always enjoyed this.


Beat 1 egg in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup molasses, 3/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup water (you can substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the yogurt and water if you prefer), and 1/4 cup canola oil. In another bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Add to the egg mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup raisins (my kids preferred chopped dates) and stir all together quickly but thoroughly. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake at 350º for 45 minutes or until the loaf tests done. Remove from pan to a wire rack immediately. Yield: 1 loaf.

The original recipe (which I have adapted) came from COOKING WITH WHOLEGRAINS, by Mildred Ellen Orton.

Hope others enjoy these great meatless meals as much as we have. More to come...

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