She speaks softly and carries ancestral wisdom that has taken her far— as a chef, an educator, an author and an accomplished businesswoman. And while Laura Anhalt calls Buffalo, “home”, her Mexican heritage is evident in her language and in the flavorful foods she creates in her professional home kitchen.
The House of Anhalt is the realm through which this talented woman governs her mini food empire. On any given day she can be found writing a cook book, consulting as a recipe expert, teaching cooking and nutrition classes, operating a full scale catering service and providing multi-lingual translation services for clients including international governments.
Her first cookbook, Mexican Flavors was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with a 2010 Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Award. Her next recipe book delves into the magical pairings of soups and witchcraft. And at the core of her culinary drive is a love of family, a dedication to her native homeland and a desire to help Buffalonians eat healthier and more naturally-flavored foods.
Recipe: Lentil & Bacon Soup Recipe
Created by Laura Anhalt
1 – 1lb bag of brown or green lentils, rinsed in cold water
4 raw bacon strips (smoked and with fatty chunks are my preference), chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped coarsely
1 small white onion (cooking onion), sliced or chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5 cilantro sprigs
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Salt & pepper to taste, and if needed
Water – as needed
Put the chopped bacon in the the soup pot and cook it over medium heat until it begins to render. Add the onion and garlic and fry them -while all the time stirring – until the bacon is fully cooked and the onion has caramelized.
Add a cup of water to the soup pot and mix and scrape gently with a spatula (wood or heat-resistant silicone) to prevent the bacon and onion from sticking to the pan, and for deglazing.
After about 5 minutes of mixing and scraping, add the lentils and gently mix them in. Now add enough water to cover the lentils fully, and then add the tomato, cilantro sprigs, the chicken bouillon cubes and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low, cover it and let it cook undisturbed but checking frequently to stir -and add a little water but only if needed to prevent burning and sticking.
The soup will be ready when the lentils are soft to the touch. At this point taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
*Chef’s tip: Be mindful of how much water you add to the lentils as they cook because the idea is to achieve a flavorful, thick and hearty broth. So add just a little at a time just to prevent burning and sticking.
Remove the cilantro sprigs before serving.
To make the recipe without meat, omit the bacon and use olive oil to brown the onion and garlic. Use vegetable bouillon cubes for added flavor.