I’m home alone, it’s pouring outside, and I figured there was no better time than now to publish my first post. This morning I took Jackson for his bike ride, which is really just me pedaling as hard as I can to keep up while he does a mad sprint through the neighborhood for the first ten or fifteen minutes. Sometimes I listen to fast music to help me keep up but mostly I listen to podcasts. I admit, I’m addicted. I also admit that public radio doesn’t exactly deliver the pump-you-up effect that one might want during exercise, which is exactly what I’m aiming for. I love to ride my bike and have it not feel like work. The Splendid Table podcast is an excellent choice for achieving this effect. My sister recently turned me onto it, and I can’t get over just how much the host (Lynne Rosetto Kasper) knows, and how she can just spout out great recipes off the top of her head, and mostly just how excited she is about the food. In my wildest dreams, maybe I’ll be able to improvise half as well. But I’m definitely close to being as excited about eating as she is.
So the episode I listened to this morning included an improvised recipe for pastrami (rather lofty, I thought, for my current skills) but Lynne suggested toasting equal parts ground mustard and ground coriander in a pan to start with. I had to try it. I have both ingredients at home which is critical given that Chris and I are in a little competition with ourselves called “let’s see how long we can live off the stuff we have without going to the store.” And so my lentil soup adventure began. I hadn’t even made it with the intention of writing about it, first of all because I didn’t know if it would be good, and second, because I knew I’d have to photograph it. With no cream, no green garnish, and no sunlight to speak of, a lentil soup photo turns into something of an ugly duckling. But it’s just going to have to do, because it tasted fantastic. When I can improvise a dish and have it come out well, I get really excited about it, so I humbly submit my first posted recipe.
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground mustard
2 Tbs butter
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1/2 a medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
4-5 anchovy fillets, minced (I promise, your soup will not taste like fish – this just makes it savory)
1 and 1/2 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried summer savory
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place ground coriander and mustard in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Shake it around occasionally until you can smell it. I had never done this before, so my first thought was that I had burned it, but it tells you when it’s ready. All of the sudden, you’ll just get a whiff. It’s a little unusual but don’t be alarmed because it will come out really good. Add the butter, mix around, and as soon as it has completely melted add the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook over medium-low to medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for one more minute over medium-high heat. Add the lentils, stir them around, and then pour in enough water to cover them with an inch or two of extra water over them. Add the bay leaf and about 1/2 a tsp of kosher salt, crank the heat up to high, bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for about an hour. Every so often, stir the lentils and check to see if more water needs to be added. If it’s too thick, add a little at a time until the consistency is how you like it. Add the summer savory, and salt and pepper to taste. And it’s probably sacrilege, but a little garlic powder doesn’t hurt either.