I’m pretty sure everyone I know is just about sick of my diet changes. One minute I’m pescatarian, the next I’m posting snaps of the lamb chop I just ordered at STK. I know. It’s annoying. This time I really am sticking to a pre-holiday cleanse. I am sticking to a vegan diet for the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and a low-animal product diet leading up to Christmas. I’ve increased my water intake and vowed to avoid coffee and alcohol until Christmas. For law student preparing for exams, this is definitely a challenge. With that being said, I scoured my internet and my mom’s recipe books looking for vegan recipes that looked somewhat exciting. I’m the person that rolls their eyes whenever something is labeled gluten-free, dairy-free, or basically food-free. The last thing I want is to spend the entire holiday season eating flavorless meals. I also don’t want to spend a month feeding my body junk simply because it doesn’t have animal product. Because, trust me, if I could I’d live off of bread and pasta for a month and be happier than ever. Over the past week I’ve forced myself to incorporate various ingredients and flavors into my diet and I LOVE it.
This soup is accidentally and naturally vegan meaning I take any additional steps or substitute any ingredients. That’s the best kind of vegan recipe if you ask me. To be honest, I’ve always found lentil soups to be quite boring. But, this is at least one lentil soup I can get behind. It is one soup that my dad, who doesn’t believe in meatless-meals, could not get enough of. It’s a crockpot recipe that basically requires you to just dump everything in a let it cook. Even the lentils. I used red lentils which are cook pretty quick and require no pre-soaking. This soup gives off an aroma that is just as irresistible as the flavors. Its colors and comfort makes it perfect for the season.
Finally emerging from the Test Kitchen is one of my favorite soups of all time (besides French Onion Soup). If you read the test kitchen post, then you’ll know that this recipe was inspired by my alma mater, University of Richmond. Creamy and savory are two of its best qualities and, once I graduated, there was just no way that I could give it up. With this soup, I can soothe my nostalgia and vicariously relive the experience of rushing out of class to beat the cafe line in the business school.
I didn’t anticipated having this recipe ready so soon after the test kitchen post. But I was so determined to get this soup closer to where I wanted it to be, especially since nostalgia kicks in ever so often. Looking over my notes from the test kitchen allowed me to remember what changes I needed to make in order to perfect the recipe. If you have a food/cooking blog, or if you just like to cook for leisure, I definitely encourage you to keep notes of the recipes you try and changes you’d like to make in the future. It is one extra step, but I promise you won’t regret it. I’m the type of person who will cook up a storm before I can even wrap my head around everything that I’ve made or want to make. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve completely forgotten about a dish I’ve made because I’m already on to the next!
I made a few bold changes to this soup (since last making the Test Kitchen version). Bravery ensued when I decided to use the smoked Gouda, which surprisingly gave this mild soup a bit of a kick. I was worried that the stronger, smokey taste would be too overpowering, but it actually gave this soup a bit of personality. The heavy cream created a more sooth and absorbent. Peeling the red peppers (the most tedious part of this whole recipe) and mastering the food processor both make all the difference. Once you’ve processed the peppers, the recipe is pretty much a straight shot from there!
This decision to try this dish was inspired by my alma mater where this exact soup was served in the business school café and made to absolute perfection. And when I say perfection, students would line up outside of the door and around the corner just to get a bowl of this delicious savory soup. I already knew that I would try this recipe a few more times given that it was the first time I ever used the broiler (for roasting the peppers) and it’s perfectly light for spring eating.
Sometimes an informal, low-key lunch is just what you need to simmer down in the midst of a full day of work. Willie T’s Lobster Shack, which debuted not too long ago in Dupont Circle right next to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, proved to be just what I needed. And, as an almost-pescetarian, I could not turn down an opportunity to eat some seafood, especially lobster.
At first glance, the menu may seem pretty limited with 3 primary options – lobster roll, crab roll, or shrimp roll. But the variety of soups and the option to convert any roll into a salad creates an array of lunch combinations. Living in the DC area has taught me that you can always trust crab dishes if it is proceeded by the word ‘Maryland’ and Old Bay seasoning is in sight.
The shack theme is taken quite literally and, although it definitely has a ‘cheap eat’ atmosphere, I had to remind myself that it is a seafood spot. I imagined that anything with the word shack in the name has great food (and possibly on the less healthy side) with a low price tag. The great food part was very accurate, but nearly $20 for a lobster roll (especially with DC tax) from a “shack” seems a bit pricey, but nevertheless the food was good and it is lobster.
For a (somewhat) healthier option, I opted for the creamy and delicious lobster bisque. The endless supply of oyster crackers and Old Bay seasoning made it easy for me to revel in every taste. Staying true to the “shack” theme, you can expect window service and stool/bar seating. There aren’t any fancy utensils and the food is garnished with simplicity.