By Gina Marinelli, Gourmet Cook & Contributing Writer
As we move into colder weather and the days continue to shorten I find myself delighting in putting on a pot of soup every Sunday. Not only does the soup steam up the cold dry air in my home but the smell...... enchanting!
One of my favorite cold weather soups is made with the sweetest of all legumes, the petite Lentil. This small wonder is one of the most nutritious of legumes and has been a staple in our home since the beginning of time! Mama made the best Italian style lentil soup ever. Speaking of Mama, her one year memorial was this past weekend.
These last few weeks leading up to her passing anniversary have been nothing short of a wild ride. Metabolically and emotionally I have been all over the map. And to top it off I decided to go on a spur of the moment trip to Chicago!
Chicago? Who would have ever thought Chicago would be my retreat of choice? I had been saving in my piggy bank to go to India for god sakes. But to the windy city I did fly and I can't begin to tell you the amazing, wonderful and fantastic time I had. It was the first solo vacation I had taken in nearly 15 years. No kids, no agendas, just being in it. And , believe me I was. I encountered a fullness of my character that I had only teased with in the past. I met so many incredible people, listened to and told stories, received and gave insight and found creative inspiration on a moment to moment basis. A huge smile of joy filled my days. I don't think i have laughed so hard in a long time. I fell into love with the history, the music, the theater, the architecture, the art, the Chicago accent, all of that vertical and the sublime. I practiced yoga anywhere and everywhere from the airport terminal to rooftops. Time left me to the now and i fully took it on. I ate like a champ at the Whole Foods. Making my raw food on the sidelines was a ritual of dedication, a devotional prayer to the well spent energy of living for the sake of living. I managed to get my groove on metabolically and from there all of the pieces of my fragmented state fell easily into balance. Beautiful.
All that I am I invest in the food that I am feeding to myself, my family and friends. I learned to live life from my bigger than life mother.
Here's to you mama!
lendiq e pasta
1 pound organic brown lentils
soak in warm water for 5-6 hours before cooking I like to add a little lemon juice to the water
strain off water and rinse several times lentils can often have little stones mixed in, feel through and remove
1 yellow onion cut into quarters
1 head of organic celery chopped
2 organic carrots chopped
3 or more cups chicken stock (filtered water if stock is unavailable)
1 jar of organic tomato paste
1 whole bud of garlic yes, there is a lot of garlic in this one!
red pepper flakes (optional)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Add lentils and chicken stock to soup pot you may also add a cup of filtered water (you don't want to have too much liquid at first you can always add as the liquid is absorbed)
add onions and celery hold carrots off until soup is nearly done
bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer
Skim off any residue from the boiling
as stock reduces add a little at a time to keep lentils from burning
cook uncovered for about an hour or until soft
In the meantime and
in a separate pan
peel garlic cut into slices
slow cook garlic in a nice bath of olive oil
when the garlic is golden add tomato paste to skillet add a cup of chicken broth or water (stand ready for sizzling and spluttering)when the liquid and paste combine let cook for about 10 minutes
and then add to the lentils continue to simmer together.
taste for seasoning
I wait until the end of cooking to add salt
a pinch of red pepper flakes can be added during cooking or sprinkled as garnish on top with grated Parmesan cheese and coarsely ground peppercorns )
I serve this soup with a hearty whole grain toasted bread smeared with a healthy dose of raw butter and a fresh salad with lemon and olive oil dressing. salad first for this carb type!
This soup is delicious the first day, even better the next!
Sometimes I add brown rice or a quinoa pasta to this soup for added texture. Always cook rice or pasta separate and add to individual servings.
A few spoonfuls go a long way.
bon appetit!, Gina
Lentils are rich in phosphorus, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron and vitamin B complex.