You say puzzle, I say soup. Ok it’s a little forced, but I made a special lentil soup last week and I need to make it fit.
But really. You suggest existing outlines of my puzzle – pieces of it already in place – shapes that will come together. What. I relate my story more to a murky stew… a big pot set on simmer to soften the random chunks I throw into it. Today, I feel ok about this.
I experienced my first successful attempt to communicate in Arabic this afternoon. An Arab women who cleans the pool locker-room asked me (in Hebrew) about the lotion I was using and I told her (in Arabic! And some hand-flinging) that it was a special product made in France that my mom bought for me in America. I wrote down the brand on a piece of paper. In her language she thanked me and told me I was a good girl and I understood her. W’allah!
In soup-making, many cooks stick with a meat, a veggie, a grain, 3 or 4 spices max. They might look up a recipe or rely on tried flavor pairings or shoot for a trusted theme: warm spices with root vegetables… chicken stock with bright herbs. Cooking with conventions usually bears good food.
I don’t know what f**ing flavor my soup is. I have no vision about what I’ll sprinkle/pour/throw into it next. I want to trust that the chunks will blend into something palatable. I’ll keep stirring, hoping for healthy digestion, tasty sips and that others might enjoy a taste too.
Pumpkin Lentil Soup
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 cups chopped fresh pumpkin (or butternut squash)
- 2 large carrots
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 sprigs of fresh or dried sage or 1 tsp dried sage
- 4 sprigs of fresh or dried rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 5 cups water/vegetable stock/chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups small, dry green lentils
- 4 bay leaves
- salt and good black pepper
- 4 tbs red wine vinegar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- handful of chopped parsley
Heat olive oil in the base of a large pot. Add onions, carrots and pumpkin and sautee until onions begin to turn golden (5 – 8 minutes). Add garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme and stir for a few more minutes. When fragrant, add four cups of water/stock, lentils, bay leaves, salt and black pepper to the pot. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer until veggies are soft (about 30 min).
Remove from heat and add vinegar and lemon juice and zest. Allow to cool (because it’s easier) and with an immersion blender or food processor, blend into a thick puree. Add more water for a thinner soup. Garnish with parsley and serve with good bread or rice.
I enjoyed it topped with a fried egg once… another time with sunflower seeds… another time with a dollop of yogurt. Yogurt always wins in my book, but the egg was a satisfying touch.