I love Thomas Keller; I'm a huge fan of his restaurants and was so glad that he released his recipes in a few cookbooks. The Ad Hoc at Home cookbook is my go-to for a very nice and casual but comforting meal. The recipes that I've tried so far have been very successful - and surprisingly, very simple and easy.
The book showcases 200 family-style recipes with some mouthwatering photos of the dishes, as well as photos highlighting his techniques. I would highly recommend this cookbook for those who want a taste of Napa Valley cuisine and for the intermediate cook who has the basics down as Thomas Keller does brush over the finer details, such as not indicating when certain vegetables should be peeled. There are a lot of basic recipes from sauces and roasts but there are also some very complex ones.
We made this simple lentil and sweet potato soup with bacon and it was so delicious. It was comfort in a bowl. The combination of lentils and bacon never fails me. The madras curry powder made for an interesting kick. The leeks were dreamy and gave it a nice richness. The acidity of the red wine vinegar really balanced the entire dish and brought it together. It's really a perfect recipe for a cold night.
Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup Recipe
Serves 6-8 people
Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home
- 8 ounces applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups carrots, diced
- 2 cups leeks, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp yellow or madras curry powder
- 1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 sachets (1 fresh bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, 1 peeled/smashed garlic clove, 3 sprigs of thyme)
- 2 cups french green lentils or spanish brown lentils, washed and rinsed
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- pepper & salt to taste
- cilantro (optional)
- In a large 8 to 10 quart stockpot or dutch oven, cook bacon in olive oil over low heat for 20-25 mins until browned but not crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the leeks, onions, carrots, and curry powder to the pot and cook in the bacon fat. Season with salt, cover and cook on low for 30-35 minutes until vegetables are soft.
- While the vegetables are cooking, put the potatoes, one sachet, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender, drain and spread on tray to cool down. Discard sachet.
- When the vegetables are soft and done cooking after 30-35 minutes, add the lentils, second sachet, and chicken stock to the vegetables. Bring to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
- Take the bacon you set aside earlier and crisp over medium-high heat in a small frying pan.
- Lastly, add the red wine vinegar and taste the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat, add the potatoes at the very end.
- Serve the soup with some bacon bits and cilantro, if desired.