Friday, July 22, 2016

All's Fair at the Fair: Red Lentil Soup

I'm always surprised by people who don't take advantage of their local fairs.  I've been going to the fair since before I can remember, starting with the New York State fair.  That's the one I have no memory of.  I have loads of memories of going to the county fair with friends as a teenager, including the one time I had to pass off my candy apple to a friend when we turned the corner and saw my orthodontist.

And now I get to help my kids make memories.  So far they love the County Fair just as much as Thatboy and I do.  And why not? There's so much to do and see.

The theme of the fair this year was Wonderland and the fairground was transformed into a topsy turvy Alice in Wonderland inspired fantasy land.

If you have a small child at home, chances are you know all about Paw Patrol.  It's a big thing in our house.  And when I found out that the Roll Patrol Tour Bus was making a stop at the fair, I made sure our visit coincided with theirs.

The tour bus had a slide, a jungle play area, and a huge screen to play

The dogs in  Paw Patrol all have special jobs and corresponding cars.  So Chase, the police dog, drives a police cruiser.  Rubble, the construction dog, drives a backhoe...tractor...some construction vehicle.  So there was also a playzone set up where the kids could drive the pups' cars.  There was also an area with all the toy playsets set up for the kids to play.

But the highlight was getting to meet the pups themselves.  We got to see Sky

And Rubble

And Thatkid got to meet two of his favorites-  Chase and Marshall!

When we finished up with the celebrities, we headed over to Thatkid's favorite part of the fair - the rides!

Thatbaby even got in on the rides, riding his first carousel.  Which he loved so much!

We headed over to the kids' art area.  And while Thatboy and Thatkid admired the artwork, Thatbaby entertained himself in the play supermarket.

Next stop was The Farm, which has gardens, and horses, and butterflies!

All that activity had us work up quite the appetite.  So we pulled up a spot of grass in front of a stage featuring different singers and bands.  And we partook in fair food.  Thatkid had a hotdog, Thatboy had a grilled cheese with pulled pork, I had a chicken and waffle sandwich.

Thatbaby's first fair food was a grilled cheese sandwich with some tomato soup to dip it in.

And of course there was funnel cake.

After lunch we went to check out the photography exhibit, which is Thatboy's favorite.  But while we were eating lunch, I was planning a special surprise for Thatkid.  Turns out his best friend was also at the fair, and so his mother and I made sure the boys met up.  We brought them over to check out the rocks and minerals.

We split up after as they headed home and we headed over to the animal exhibits.  Where Thatkid got to pet a cow AND learn how to milk one.

And then it was time to head out.  But not before taking our annual fair picture!

I am such a sucker for fair food.  It's one of my favorite summer indulgences.  But it's all about balance.  For every funnel cake there has to be a huge leafy salad.  For every grilled cheese, there's a bowl of lentil soup.

Most lentil soups are made with green lentils, but when I saw a bag of red lentils at Trader Joes I thought it would be a nice change.  To change it up a bit from what is usually a great winter dish, I added some extra spice and the perfect summer accessory - lemon!

Red Lentil Soup
 4 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup red lentils
1 Tbsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 cups beef broth
juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, cardamon, allspice, and lemon rind.
  3. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Cool slightly, then place in blender and puree.  
  5. Reheat gently and season to taste.  Stir in the lemon juice and remaining oil.
  6. Top with croutons and serve.

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