The Best Five Minutes of the Day


Steamy pots of homemade soup!

Believe it or not, I put together a steamy pot of homemade soup for my family in about five minutes today. How convenient is that?

And as far as I'm concerned, once something like this is simmering away on the stove, the heavy lifting, so to speak, has been done; and what you have, within minutes, is filling, comforting and healthful.
Don't let the lack of exact measurements in some of these recipes throw you. Measuring takes time, and who has the patience to cut up and measure vegetables? In any case, just keep in mind that quantities are not crucial in these recipes.
Yellow Lentil Soup
1 cup yellow lentils, sorted and rinsed 
hunk of cabbage, coarsely chopped 
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped 
a few big fresh mushrooms, coarsely sliced 
a few drops soy sauce
Place all ingredients in a 2-quart pot; add boiling water almost to the top. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for an hour or so until lentils are softened.
Add salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste. Let cool. Partially puree with an immersion blender and reheat.
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I received the following recipe from a Philippina living in Israel. It's even quicker to prepare than the one above and tastes delicious.
Quicker Than Quick Garlicky Bean Soup
2 tsps. oil 
5 medium cloves garlic, chopped 
1 can (15 oz.) baked beans in tomato sauce 
a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste
Heat oil in a 2-quart pot and saute garlic with a wooden spoon, constantly moving it around, for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden, not brown.
Add beans and tomato paste. Add water almost to the top and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so.
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And then there's always chicken soup. I basically make this every week. No sauteing; no precise chopping involved.
Sometimes I leave out the onion; sometimes I substitute pumpkin for carrots. You can also add in any forgotten more-or-less-neutral vegetable quickly going south in the vegetable bin. If I have some parsley or dill, I add them during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
After removing the chicken, I usually puree the vegetables with a hand blender to thicken so that some of the vegetables can remain anonymous. Do be sure to concentrate when you are immersion-blending and do make sure the soup is cool so you don't get spattered with hot soup.
Chicken Soup
1 whole cleaned chicken, quartered (or lots of chicken bones) 
2 quarts (or more) cold water 
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks 
1 medium-sized onion, cut into chunks 
1 parsley root, scraped (optional) 
3-4 medium zucchini, peeled, cut into chunks 
1 tsp. salt, or to taste 
1/2 tsp. pepper, or to taste
Place all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Skim foam and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 11/2 hours, or until juices run clear. Add water, if necessary, to keep ingredients covered; skim occasionally.
Remove chicken from soup. Cool 10 minutes, or just until cool enough to handle. Correct seasoning. Refrigerate chicken and soup in separate containers for up to 24 hours or freeze. Scrape off accumulated congealed fat and reheat to serve.
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Okay, this recipe doesn't really fall into the five-minute category (there are a couple of steps), but its unique combination of ingredients makes it a sure-fire hit.
Lentil-Vegetable Soup
4 cups brown lentils, sorted 
10 cups water 
2 tsps. salt 
2 medium onions, chopped 
4 medium carrots, cleaned and peeled if necessary; chopped 
3 medium zucchini, cleaned and peeled if necessary; chopped 
1 tsp. dried basil 
3 oz. tomato paste 
black pepper to taste 
soy sauce (optional)
Place lentils, water and salt in a large soup pan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
Add vegetables and basil to lentil mixture. Simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste. Season to taste with black pepper. Serve piping hot.
Let diners add a few drops of soy sauce at their own discretion.
Rivka Tal is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 45 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: [email protected]


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