Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lovely Little Lentils and Some Poems

Lentils are one of my favourite staple foods.  They are inexpensive and versatile, a good source of protein and iron and delicious.  I used to be vegan, which is a whole other post, and I ate a lot of lentils then but I still eat them in soups and stews now.  One of my favourites things to eat is dal, which, now that I think of it, I haven't made in a long time.  In my cupboard at the moment I have small red lentils and the brown/green ones which I like to use in dal.  The red ones recently helped me to rescue my soup , for which I am very grateful and thus felt they deserved special mention in a blog post. 

I had some vegetables I needed to use up before they went bad.  Given that my energy level from day to day is unpredictable, I find it difficult to shop, never knowing if I will be able to manage fresh food that needs a lot of preparation, or if I should be stocking my fridge with cottage cheese.  When I say "a lot of preparation" I basically mean washing and chopping which isn't really a lot of work for a more normal level of energy.  But 'normal' isn't the way I live.  There is no normal, there is only whatever is happening today.  I don't have a lot of freezer space and must confess that I don't care for the taste of most vegetables when frozen.   Peas, green beans and corn, I am used to, but any other vegetable tastes peculiar to me.  So, when I find myself well supplied with vegetables I realise I will not be able to use I do one of three things, I either look the other way as it goes blue and mushy in my fridge, I give it away to my mum or my neighbour before it looks off-putting, or on a day when I have some energy for cooking I use up every vegetable I have making soup.

I love my vegetable soups pureed, and I love my pureed soups curried.  I also find that if I make the soup thick I can use it as a sauce and then thin it down with water or broth if I want to eat it as soup.

This particular soup, since it contained all the vegetable contents of my fridge, was in danger of being much too brown to be appetizing, as is the inevitable result of mixing green vegetables and orange vegetables.  I needed to get that brown much more orange to keep the soup appealing looking, although it already tasted quite delicious.  The solution was more carrots, but in my rummaging for anything orange, I re-discovered a forgotten jar of small red lentils.  They aren't really red, they are quite orange.  I think I would add yet more carrots if I were serving this to company and I've made a mental note to use more carrots than I think I need the next time I mix my green and orange veggies.

The contents of my soup pot were roughly this:

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large orange flesh sweet potato, peeled and chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large broccoli stems, chopped
4 cups washed baby spinach
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
garlic, salt, pepper, tumeric, mustard, curry powder,  all to taste

I like to add coconut milk to smaller batches of the soup and freeze portions without it.  Yogurt can be stirred in or dolloped on top as well or instead of the coconut milk. This basic soup could be thinned and used as the broth for a chunky soup with more lentils and vegetables, chicken or seafood.

It would be vegan, obviously, if the stock used were vegetable stock. 

I haven't yet taken up the art of food styling, so here is a very ordinary and plain bowl of soup just waiting for someone's creative touch.   I thinned this down a little just with water when I heated up the portion I wanted to eat with my lunch.

Just for fun, here are three soup poems I grew up with:

The Story of Augustus Who Would Not Have Any Soup, from Struwwelpeter
Poem with Illustations here

Beautiful Soup, by Lewis Carroll
Poem here

Chicken Soup With Rice, by Maurice Sendak is a full book with a poem for each month so I can only give a sample here.  The illustrations still delight me as much as they did when I was a child.

Carole King put the whole poem to music.  The lyrics, written by Sendak, can be found here


  1. delicious soup!
    when hub is at work or i can see a lot of work the next days i make a soup. and if i made very much soup in summer i fill the boiling hot soup in clean glass jars right up to the lid, screw them tight, let them cool up side down. the food inside stays eatable for weeks in a cool, dark place.
    storing the veggies is not a problem - under the house is a sandstone cellar - potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, parsnip etc. stay fresh down there for weeks. one of the blessings of a old house.
    for root veggies try this - store´em embed in a bucket with damp sand in a dark (use a lid) cool place (no frost) - this was the method used by granny in a time with no fridge. the veggies should stay good for weeks.

  2. It's a bit of a challenge to store buckets of sand and root veggies in an apartment! I'm a bit short on cool dark places. Also, it's usually my broccoli, cauliflower and spinach that are going bad. I can keep sweet potatoes and squash on my kitchen counter for up to a month so that helps. :-)

  3. Can't go wrong with a spicy homemade soup! Yours looks delicious. I always chuck a few red lentils into most soups I make too, for a bit of extra thickness and protein. xxx

  4. I am with you - I only use fresh veggies, and occasionally frozen pies. I looooove soups! I have to write about my borsh (I was asked for a recipe just today, so I better do it!). We obviously all need to eat soups, so we don't end up like poor Augustus! Loved the poems! :) And I will try to make a lentil soup by your recipe, sound delicious!

    You are a wonderful writer, I am taken with your blog! (And that blue bodycon dress looks wonderful on you - or rather you look wonderful in it!)

  5. Thank you, so much Natalia. I am enjoying your blog too. We live in the same area, I'm just in the Canadian version, so we are practically neighbours!

    1. We need to plan bloggers meet-up some time soon! :)

    2. That would be so much fun! We can't call it The Pacific Northwest Blogger Meet Up because those of us in Canada are in the pacific south-west-lol. Though we don't really call it that.


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