Larry’s Famous Red Lentil Soup with Chicken

This may be out of order and I will post the recipes I mentioned earlier that I did on my frenzied meal assembly day, but I wanted to post another recipe that we (Larry) make often and freeze - Larry's fabulous Red Lentil Chicken Soup. Enjoy!


3-4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
10 cups water or more
1 medium carrot, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
½ cup (or 3-4) fresh tomatoes, diced
Large pinch: ground saffron and ground ginger
¼ to ½ t crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste, about 2 ½ tsp.
1 ½ cups red lentils, rinsed twice in cold water (very important)
Egg noodles


1. Put chicken breasts in a 4-to 5-quart pot; add water to cover. Heat to boil, reduce to a simmer and skim off any foam that rises to surface. When foam subsides, cover partly and simmer until chicken starts to fall off the bone.

2. Remove the chicken from the broth and pull off the bone. Shred the meat. Discard bone and skin.

3. While you are shredding the chicken, add the red lentils to the broth (don’t forget to rinse twice before adding).

4. Add the garlic, tomatoes, all the spices and the chicken to the broth. Salt and pepper to taste. (Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt is fabulous - - a favorite of Mom Vassallo’s!)

5. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer, cover partly. Simmer gently until the veggies are soft and lentils are disintegrating, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. To prevent scorching, stir frequently and add more water as necessary.

6. In a separate pot boil water for the egg noodles. I add the pasta to the individual soup bowls and not in the soup pot because the pasta tends to get mushy.

7. Top individual servings with salt and pepper to taste; great with shredded parmesan.

8. Let soup completely cool before putting in the refrigerator.

For Freezer Meals: Let soup completely cool and then divide up into small containers for the freezer.

Sloth-ness Leads to Investment Cooking

I’m not sure how or why we started doing this, perhaps a lack of sustenance in the fridge, but it seems lately Larry and I have been going out for dinner probably a little to much.

Don’t get me wrong, we love to go out to eat, but I started to feel that perhaps, maybe, I was being a slouch with preparing our weekly meals. I love to cook and bake and I just think I’ve had zero desire to cook lately because everything seems to be a downer lately with the economy, the weather, the fact that it gets dark dreadfully early etc. – it’s no wonder we were driven out of the house for a little pick-me-up! Of course the down turned economy is precisely why we should be staying in and I decided I needed to get out of my funk and get back to my love of cooking.

Our major dilemma is that when I get home from work and when Larry stops for the night from his home office, we are just wiped. I mean it, as soon as I come in the front door I head for the chair and TV – I just feel I need to decompress. And unfortunately once I decompress, I decompress so much, that you can kiss dinner goodbye!

So I thought I’d get off my butt and start looking into how we can do some meal planning, make healthy meals and make some more time for us at night where we can relax and not feel guilty because we went out again for dinner.

Our solution: pre-preparing meals for the freezer, (investment cooking) in bulk, so we’re not fumbling around on any given weeknight trying to figure out what to make for dinner and then ultimately choosing Tommy’s our favorite hot dog place…not a good solution for the butt, thighs, gut…need I go on???

A couple of years ago Larry and I went to Simply Homemade, which offers the same concept of pre-paring meals. You pay them and they provide the food, spices etc. and all you have to do is assemble and go.

It’s actually a brilliant concept especially for busy couples and families. But we found that the meals started tasting a lot alike because the meals you prepared there used all the same spices etc. — it’s kind of like when you use a crock pot and everything starts to taste like stew. And of course there’s the convenience they offer but at a cost. So I thought, hey, we could do this at home and also save some money.

Anyway, I decided I was going to tackle this project full-force and hit the ground running. First I went to the library and took out all the freezer meal books and then I hit the Internet. I poured through a ton of recipes and tried to pick those that were healthy (lower in carbs) – hint…no casseroles!

So I waited for this past weekend to get things kicked started. I planned on shopping on Saturday and then assemble the meals on Sunday. However, sloth kicked in and I ended up doing everything on Sunday. Note to self…Walmart on a Sunday…not a good thing. I was there 3 hours and almost had a panic attack at buying all the meat. I know the point of investment cooking is to buy in bulk and then prepare meals for the whole month, but my gosh does it add up!

When I got home I set up all my stations and started assembling.

There are two kinds of investment cooking options: assembling and then freezing without baking or assembling, baking, and then freezing. I’ve done both, but thought with the meals I was preparing would be better using the former method.

Well after about 4 hours later and a ton of chicken cutlets later we now have over a month’s worth of food in our extra freezer!

I’ll post the recipes separately, but here’s what I made:

* Mini meatloaves
* Lemon Glazed Chicken Breasts
* Cranberry Chicken
* Moroccan Hamburgers

After testing the recipes, we were very pleased. And I really believe that this is the answer for nighttime bliss – not worrying about what to make for dinner. But I will tell you assembling all at once can be a little daunting, however, it was so worth it!