Well we are back from a wonderful vacation in the US hiking, horseback riding and whitewater rafting in the Rocky Mountains with my family, and though it is always sad to see a great vacation come to an end, I was very happy in the knowledge that I wasn't returning to the normal daily grind but rather my garden and the dogs and cooking and, oh yeah some work too.
Our neighbor had kept the garden properly hydrated during our absence, but the weeds and insects have come out in full force while we were gone, so I've got my work cut out for me to get things back in shape. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen - we've been sneaking a few cherry tomatoes off the vine - and the borage is now over two feet tall and starting to flower, but the most impressive discovery in the garden upon our return was by far the three enormous marrows (zucchini/courgettes left to turn into actual squash with fully developed seeds) which we have been practically living off of since our return.
(this is not a small table...)
The first of several recipes we've done with these gargantuan veggies is a marrow and lentil soup which fed us to stuffed for 4 meals (which works out to about 50 cents a meal! talk about living on the cheap!), accompanied by some homemade semi-whole rolls.
Marrow and 3 Lentil Soup
A whole lot of zucchini/courgette/marrow (enough to fill half to 2/3 a big pot when chopped - this still only used about 2/3 of one of these big guys!)
1 large or 2 small onions
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground coriander seed
Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
1 cup red lentils
1 cup beluga lentils
1.5-2 cups green lentils (or you can just use one kind of lentils)
~2 L chicken stock
If you are indeed using a large marrow, start by cutting it in half lengthwise and removing the seeds, then dice it up into cubes. Chop the onion and the garlic and start these cooking in some olive oil and butter in a large pot. Add a teaspoon or so of ground coriander, salt and pepper. Strip the thyme and rosemary from the stalks and chop it up with the sage leaves and add half of this herb mixture to the cooking onions and garlic, setting aside the rest to add at the end. Add the diced marrow to the pot, enough to fill it 1/2 - 2/3 the way full, and season with salt and pepper as well as adding a couple of knobs of butter so they glisten a little as you stir them around. Once they look like they are starting to cook through, rinse your lentils and add them to the pot, stirring them around a bit before adding your chicken stock (enough to cover everything plus an inch or so more). Cover and leave to simmer until the lentils are tender. Add the remaining fresh herbs and reduce if need be (it can be pretty watery, as the lentils will thicken it up considerably once whizzed up), and taste to see if the seasoning needs to be adjusted (either go heavy on the salt now, or add salt to taste after you've blitzed the lentils).
Now for the turning into actual soup and not stew, we ladled out about half of it into a large food processor then actually put the rest aside as it was to save for the next night, which worked quite well. The second night we then blitzed the rest and then heated it back up, also adding cream since we had been to the grocery store by that time to remedy the empty fridge. Serve with some warm crusty bread if possible - I had made a dozen rolls (putting half in the freezer) using T80 'farine bise' (semi-whole wheat), which went great with the soup.