lentils with a chance of snowfall

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:

weather screen shot

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.

soup bowl with cheddar cheese

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.

soup boiling

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).


Lentil Soup

(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.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Abrah on October 9, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    1. In my free time, I’ve been experimenting with cooking and this has now been added to the list!

    2. If you get snow in October and I don’t see snow until next year, I will be unconsolably jealous. Seriously, it hits 65 here and girls pull out there Uggs and North Face fleeces. If we got snow, I think eskimo attire would be all the rage.


    • Posted by iowasthinking on October 10, 2009 at 9:52 am

      Let the record stand. It is now 9:50 on Saturday morning, the 10th of October, and it is SNOWING. Real flakes, too.


  2. Posted by Melissa on October 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Hey!! I made lentil soup yesterday too! Similar recipe but mine cooks in a pressure cooker. Did you know that’s the new ‘old’ thing now? Do you have one? I’ve had this one for ever b/c it used to be g-ma’s. I’ve had it probably about 20 years, was about to discard it for being heavy and unused and then I thought, well, if I can find just a few decent pressure cooker recipes, I’ll keep the thing. Well, i did and one was the lentil soup. Mine doesn’t use white wine, but has 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes. I used Chinese red pepper b/c I had it around. Well, it adds quite a substantial kick, I can tell you! It also has pearl barley. It’s delicious too.
    OK- so it’s cold here too but I bought a new outfil a month or so ago and it’s for cool/cold and now I can wear it alot and it makes me feel good. So– it’s good that it’s cold. Hasn’t snowed here tho! Ick.
    How is school going for Billy? Hank is studying a ton.
    Love you, sweetie!


    • Posted by iowasthinking on October 13, 2009 at 4:53 pm

      I’ve got a crock pot here (is that the same thing?) but haven’t busted it out yet. I’m fighting the slip into cold weather cooking until absolutely necessary. Billy is verrry busy, but not overwhelmed. He’s managing it all well, happily. Hope Hank is staying above water as well!


  3. […] in a chilly and wet Massachusetts, and can now verify: it has finally made its way westward to an unseasonably warm […]


  4. […] The flavor’s insane. Insane rice? Yes. You must be catching on. Same goes with, you know, any number of recipes here or elsewhere that call for chicken broth. Make this; use it […]


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