Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farmer's Market Stew

This last week, Mr. Wendy and I have been traveling through the Midwest visiting my family.  Because we are generally the pickiest eaters in the room (thanks to our aversion to meat), we often do a fair share of the cooking when we’re houseguests.  This trip was no exception.  We made my grandma some simple bean tacos and a tomato and basil pasta.  We made my mom the polenta pie I posted two weeks ago. But my favorite creation of the trip was the lentil/potato/corn stew we made for my sister.

My wonderful little sister moved from New York to Detroit about a year ago, and this was our first visit to her new home.  We got to enjoy the spectacular view from her loft in the Cass Corridor, and she graciously lent us her car during the days (while she was off training new corps members for Teach for America) so we could explore the city.

One of our stops on our first day was Detroit’s Eastern Market:  a huge farmer’s market, brimming with local produce and interesting made-in-Michigan delicacies.  We broke a $20 and walked away with cherries, blueberries, lentils, tomatoes, corn on the cob, baby potatoes, parsley, thyme, an onion … and change.  Awesome.

We remembered that Sister had garlic, olive oil, and vegetable broth in her pantry; we knew the location of a good bakery a block from her house; and a plan emerged.

By the time she arrived home from work, the loft was rich with the scent of the simmering soup.  The potatoes and lentils formed a hearty base, but the sweet corn—cut straight from the cob, juicy tomatoes, and bright green herbal notes made this a perfect late summer soup.  Throw in a loaf of fresh sour dough bread and some ice-cold beers, and we had a flavorful peasant-like meal around which to swap stories and catch up.

Farmer's Market Stew

1 c lentils
1 ½ c onion
5 c diced potatoes
3 cloves garlic
3 TBSP olive oil
3 cups corn (4 ears)
4 c vegetable broth
6 campari-sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)
1 c. chopped parsley
1-2 Tbs. fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot.  Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-low until the onion is quite soft.  Add the broth, potatoes, and lentils.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes (until the lentils are tender); if the liquid gets too low, add a little water.  Add the corn, tomatoes, and herbs, and simmer another 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and keep hot until ready to serve.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. That is an ideal dinner for catching up, Wendy! I love farmers' markets too - we go to one every Saturday in season, and mourn all winter.

  2. Wonderfully healthy and delicious! I started eating more lentils in recent years. We carnivores don't use them enough. What a lovely dinner catching up with your sister!

    ~ Krista

  3. I just made a pot of lentil soup last week, but I think I'll make another today, this time with potatoes and corn and thyme. It sounds so good!

  4. Lentils are the bomb! They are such a great protein-y base for so much food. Nancy, I hope you'll share your lentil soup recipe -- you can never have too many!

    And Laine - I know what you mean. It's such a bummer when the farmers markets close down for the winter. Just the thought of it makes me gorge myself during the summer. :)

  5. dare I suggest add some chicken and this would be perfect... But I have a vegetarian friend that I am entertaining soon and I will be hanging on to this recipe!

    With a side of chicken ;)

  6. I'm sad even thinking about the farmer's market shutting down for the season! Thanks for these great ideas for using the fresh veggies I've got. :)

  7. We try to have a couple of vegetarian meals a week (to make up for my carnivore tendencies) and this recipe just shot to the top of the list.

    Good going, Wendy! Come and visit me any time!

  8. ooh, I love lentil bean soup and this stew is right up my alley. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Marvelous - I have been trying to figure out what to do with my lentils. Thanks for sharing. I am steeling this recipe for my recipe file :)

  10. Wendy,
    You and Mr. Wendy found one of the greatest treasures that MI has...and one of my favorites! Eastern Mkt. is open year round...just recently opening on Tuesday for retail sales to go along with the brisk Saturday market. Just in case you are still in town...have your sister take you to Traffic Jam/Snug.... a great restaurant known in the city for its wonderful food. The Wayne State campus area is going through a renaissance and your sister is fortunate to live down there! Even though we live out in the sticks we still make the trip downtown several times a year to the Market.

    Great recipe, too by the by!!!