I’m writing on our front deck, mug of cider in hand and biscotti for dunking in my belly, enjoying the balmy mid-sixty temperatures the weather gods have generously bestowed upon us. For now. Which is lovely, because this is what we’re being saddled with in four days:
This weekend! Early October! I racked my memory and determined that, if it happens, this will be the earliest snowfall I have ever, ever encountered, barring some freak September blizzard in Virginia that I forgot. (I didn’t.) The papers are calling this weather “unseasonably cold,” but I’m not sure if they’re telling the truth or all lying, just to convince me that Iowa is, it really is!, more temperate than Siberia.
Well, if it does snow, you can bet your button I will step outside only to photograph it, and then step inside (and there remain) indefinitely. And this is what I’ll be eating.
I used to make this lentil soup with my mom when I was little, and the things that stick out the most in my memory bank are: the canned whole tomatoes are too slimy; and this soup takes forever to make. (Then I also thought we kept library books for three months, not three weeks, so clearly my temporal instinct was not to be trusted.) I also thought the recipe was terribly complicated, and felt sillier than ever when I saw last week that there are only three steps.
So I made it last week, and I’ll make it again next, because this is a soup you can really sink your teeth into. It’s endlessly better than Amy’s canned kind (or any other brand), which had me thinking of lentil soup as bland. Nope! This recipe is thick and richly flavorful, and makes your entire kitchen smell warm (not just warms up your kitchen — makes it smell warm). Mercifully, there is also no butter or cream, and you could turn it vegan in one second flat by skipping the cheese topping, so as far as hibernation fare goes, this is pretty great. Especially compared to my other seasonal favorites like Guinness lamb stew and shepherd’s pie, which will definitely plump one up to bear standards. Feast on this, channeling anti-bear hibernation, and watch the snow fall (or not . . . but make this soup anyway).
(Adapted from Jane Brody)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 or 3 medium onions, chopped
- 3 carrots, coarsely grated
- generous sprinkle of thyme and oregano
- 1 28 oz tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped
- 7 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 6 oz white wine, dry
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling
Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions. When they’re nicely browned, add carrots and spices, stirring for about five minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth, lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour, or until lentils are soft.
Add salt, pepper, wine, and parsley. Serve hot, with cheese grated over each portion if you wish.