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May 11, 2014

Slow cooker curry carrot and lentil soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Slow cooker carrot and curry lentil soup #vegan #glutenfree #slowcooker #crockpot

Improbable as it seems for someone who isn't really in love with carrots, I found two pounds of carrots in my vegetable drawer the other day. (I should clarify: I love carrots raw, but not so much when they're cooked.) The carrots, at that use-them-or-compost-them stage, were a natural for soup. Orange soup, with orange carrots and orange juice. I didn't have a recipe in mind, and as it turned out, I didn't have any of the red lentils I thought would be a perfect color match. No matter: I started with the carrots, and began to build flavors from my pantry until I found a pleasing balance of warm and sweet. I'm glad I kept good notes as I went along, because this is a recipe I want to make again and again. Make it ahead and freeze it, and serve it hot or try it chilled, with a plop of yogurt or sour cream on top. I just might learn to love cooked carrots after all.

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April 10, 2014

Beef barley soup recipe (pressure cooker or stove top)

Beef barley soup, made easy in the pressure cooker (or on the stove stop). #soup

Here in Rhode Island, the calendar says Spring, but the thermometer says Not Yet. I drive around looking for places where green might be peeking through, but until a few days ago, lingering patches of ice suppressed most of the crocuses, daffodils and fiddlehead ferns. The rainy, raw weather of early April puts me in the mood for soups like this traditional beef barley. I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use my first-ever electric pressure cooker, which is my new preferred method for making this soup, though I've included directions for making it on the stove. In the pressure cooker, the small chunks of beef and barley cook to perfect tenderness in just ten minutes at high pressure. Thick and chewy beef barley soup, a standard in New York delicatessens, has been a favorite of mine since childhood. This version is better than any you'll find in a deli. I promise.

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March 13, 2014

Dry beans (Recipe: everything-from-the-pantry bean soup) {vegetarian}

Originally published in December 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I now like to make meatless. You can add some chicken or sausage for your omnivorous eaters.

Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup #vegetarian.

By nature and by habit, I am a decanter.

Not the kind with an hourglass figure (don't I wish?) and a cork stopper.

No, I am a person who decants almost everything in my pantry into clear jars so I can see how much of each item I have on hand. I've never been able to divine, just by looking at a box on the shelf, exactly how much sugar, or rice, or bulgur wheat, is left in the box. The smaller jars, mostly one-quart canning size, hold the things I use in smaller quantities: lentils, cocoa powder, arrowroot, table salt for baking. In medium jars, I keep various kinds of rice, and breakfast cereals. The large jars hold the basics: sugars, kosher salt, flours.

My favorite jars are what I call the amalgamators: the jar that holds leftover odds and ends of dry pasta, and the one that gathers dry beans. I only allow like-minded beans — those that cook in approximately the same time, or have the same texture or color — to cohabit. Today, my bean jar contains red kidneys and Anasazi beans, and a few navy beans hiding at the bottom. At other times, it might have cranberry beans, if I'm lucky enough to find them, or pink pintos.

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March 2, 2014

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup recipe

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

Sometimes -- most times -- I really love my well-stocked pantry. With snow swirling outside and shoveling to be done (how quickly the glow of our warm-weather vacation wore off), I reviewed what I had in the cupboard and refrigerator while I cleared a ragged just-wide-enough path to the driveway. Back in the kitchen, I sat my favorite red Dutch oven on the stovetop, and collected ingredients for this black bean, tomato and sausage soup. Absolutely everything in this recipe comes straight from the pantry, and the soup comes together in minutes if you start with canned black beans. The whole, more than the sum of its parts, restored my energy and soothed my tired muscles. Make the soup mild or spicy, depending on how much snow you have to shovel.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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