Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lentil Soup

It's cool outside - the blessed rain fell today. Although we could have wished the rain would not have fallen on the dear people's church picnic, at this point after weeks of sweating it out in the glare-y sun, we'll take what we can get. And the rain did wait until we'd been in the park for two full hours, so by then we were all pretty much ready to wrap it up anyway.

I'm happy to report there were no deviled eggs left. A line from some long unread Laura Ingalls book comes to mind "it was a credit to Ma that none of her (what was it?) was left" or something like that after a church dinner. (Jody would know which book and the exact quote, but she's busy being controversial over at her place, so I bet she wont be by.) Funny what stays in there when so much that might actually be useful has fallen out my ears. Well, in any case, it's a credit to the new pastor that the deviled ages were neither lumpy nor runny and they all got eaten.

Now it's the end of a long day, the sky is darkening outside, we're clearing places on our desks (my goodness the paper DOES pile up) and there's a pot of lentil soup simmering on the stove. My relationship with lentil soup is complicated. Where I come from, lentils are famine food, what you eat when there's nothing in fridge but a limp carrot and a half an onion and it's the end of January and there's no money but you have to fill up and stay warm somehow.* J, however, had never eaten lentils until he met me. His childhood food was chicken breasts cooked unto death. And Doritos. Anyway, to for him, lentils are the height of exotic and whenever I cook up a batch of the Moosewood lentil soup (from the original printing of the cookbook, where it says "start this early, it needs to cook all day" - that is not true) he is delighted. I do have to admit that the aroma of the first pot of soup of the year is wonderful - reminds me of everything I've always loved about fall. And like all famine food (lutefisk, say, or black-eyed-peas, or kimchi or whatever it is for you wherever you are from) it does have a certain breath of home-ness about it and it actually tastes pretty good too.

I dont use the cookbook recipe anymore, I've made this so many times, but in case you'd like a pot of lentils, too on a cool fall day, here's how it goes.

Lentil Soup (Moosewood says "it's gentle...." Funny ol hippies)

One hour before eating, get out a big pot.
Saute until soft in 1-2 T olive oil
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
half an onion
1.5 cup lentils
4 cups liquid (chicken broth is best but water works too)
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover.

20 minutes before eating
1 small can diced tomato (or fresh if you got em)
small pinch each thyme and oregano
bigger pinch basil
salt and pepper

Just before eating
dollap each sherry and molasses
squirt of soy sauce
juice of half a lemon

J likes his over rice. Also good garnished with cheese (any kind) or parsley.

*I've never actually lived THAT close to the bone, but you know what I mean, right?


Jody said...

No, now I'm just being silly because American Girl's latest "historical" doll is from the 1970s.

First, what girl wants to play with a doll from her own mom's era? And second, when did the 1970s become an historical era? And third, why did they skip the 1960s? Imagine being a girl in 1964!

They could have even embraced another black doll in their line, don't you think?

Anyhoo, that was a line from the Thanksgiving dinner festival at church in Little Town in the Prairie, and I think it was Ma's baked beans, but I can't remember. It's a notable chapter because Ma gets so bone-weary tired that she actually (gasp!) speaks with something less than perfect calmness to Charles. They're walking home and he congratulates her on the "social" and she comes close to SNAPPING (Call out the alarms!) that it wasn't a social, it was a New England supper.

I'll check the quotation in the morning LOL. (Hey, all those re-reads are doing me some good after all. Parlor games!)

juniper68 said...

Oh Jody! I KNEW I could count on you! I think you're right - it was baked beans - something about the pan being scraped claen if I remember...Myabe it IS the snappishnish that kept it in my head. All those books are still packed away, or I would look it up myself.

RE toys: we're lucky it's all matchbox cars all the time here (or balls - cant go wrong with balls) - they are relatively ageless and uncomplicated....

Magdalene6127 said...

I make this lentil soup all the time in winter... I have the first edition, cover falling off, the recipe's slightly different (you simmer the lentils for hours and hours). But it signifies coziness to me... It would be smart to make it with all these fresh tomatoes, no? (not from my garden, but from a man at church who literally has thousands). Nice!

Jody said...

Ah, finally I went looking! It was the New England Supper, and the line was: "It was a compliment to Ma's cooking that not a bite of the pumpkin pie nor a spoonful of the beans remained."

And the line we both remember is "I am tired, Ma replied. A little edge to her gentle voice startled Laura. "And it wasn't a sociable. It was a New England Supper." Pa said no more.

Now if only my voice were such that a little edge in it would startle my children.