Meals without meat to serve during Lent


March 04, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Christians of many faiths will begin today observing the 40 days of Lent, arguably the most holy time in the Christian calendar.

Many faiths mark this time by fasting or abstaining from some foods, particularly meat.

There are many other foods to choose from; seafood, particularly fish, is always popular. Vegetable soups are another delicious option.

One way the congregation of St. John's Episcopal Church, Huntingdon, will observe Lent is by participating in "alternative Fridays," according to the Waverly church's rector, the Rev. Jesse L. A. Parker.

Each Friday during Lent families and friends will set aside their normal routine and get together for a simple meal of meatless soup, vegetables, fruit and cheese.

Soups made from dried beans are a good choice for this back-to-basics religious observance. The soups are nutritious, simple to prepare and quite inexpensive.

One Lenten tradition says money saved from meatless meals should go to provide foods and other goods for the poor, says the Rev. Tom Bonderenko, administrator of shelter services for Associated Catholic Charities.

He sends out a Lenten list of food products and other goods his charity desperately needs. To request a list or more information call (410) 547-5484.

Using chicken broth or even soup bones is an acceptable way to prepare soups during Lent. Chunks of meat should be avoided. Water can be substituted for the broth but you may need to add extra seasoning for flavor.

Beans, lentils and peas are part of the legume family and form a major food source in many undeveloped countries.

Legumes, low in fat and high in fiber, are a nutritional bargain, if an incomplete one. To form a complete protein food source, legumes can be eaten with bread or cheese. Adding inexpensive rice or pasta to the soups will also make them a complete protein food.

Legumes, low in fat and high in fiber, are a nutritional bargain, if an incomplete one. To form a complete protein food source, legumes can be eaten with bread or cheese. Adding inexpensive rice or pasta to the soups will also make them a complete protein food.

Legumes are also rich in many vitamins and minerals, including iron. To absorb the maximum amount of iron add a food high in vitamin C to the meal -- a piece of fruit, for example, or a side dish of broccoli, peppers or tomatoes.

Dried beans require some special preparation. First, pick over the legumes, removing any foreign material. Then, soak the beans as directed on the package. Rehydrating the legumes is time-consuming, but it guarantees even cooking and a flavorful dish.

Here are some simple, meatless dishes. These recipes are easy to prepare and inexpensive. The first is from "The New Settlement Cookbook" edited by Charles Pierce, Simon & Schuster; 1991:

White bean soup with tomato and thyme

Serves six.

1 pound white beans, preferably great northern

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, chopped

3 or 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 cup drained canned tomatoes

several sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

4 or 5 parsley sprigs

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8 cups water or chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash and rinse beans several times in cold running water. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight. As a shortcut, pour boiling water over washed beans and let sit for one hour.

Heat oil in soup pot. Add onions. Cook over moderately high heat until translucent.

Add tomatoes, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and garlic. Stir to blend. Drain beans and add to vegetables. Pour in water or stock and bring almost to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft. Time will vary according to beans used. If they have been on shelf for a long time, they will need more cooking than younger beans. Beans must be quite soft or soup will be gritty.

When done, remove bay leaves and, working in batches, puree soup in food processor until smooth. Return to heat, season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin out with additional stock or water if desired. Soup can be worked through a strainer for an even silkier texture. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs, if desired.


These recipes are from "The Bean, Pea & Lentil Cookbook" edited by Maria Luisa Scott and Jack Denton Scott, Consumers Union of United States Inc., 1991.

Navy beans Burgundy

Serves four.

2 cups dried navy beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 shallots or small green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine, optional

3 very ripe medium-sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cover beans with water and soak for five hours. Drain. Alternatively, boil beans in water for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for one to two hours. Drain.

Place beans in large pot and cover with water. Cover pot and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until just tender. Drain beans.

In deep saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and cook shallots for five minutes.

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