Today was the first real storm of the season, pinpricks of dry snow whispering through the trees this morning, big, wet flakes at midday, rain this evening. It was overcast and cold, but beautiful, too, the landscape a rich palette of grays and blues and white. I went for two long walks, and after my second came home and made lentil soup.
I've been thinking about this lentil soup for a long time. Years, in fact: A friend of the yachtsman's mom's brought it to the house the night the yachtsman's stepdad died. As I remembered it, the soup was deeply flavorful and very comforting, but I've never been sure if it was really that good or if its magic was in the need it fulfilled, the way a mediocre meal can taste amazing when you're famished—perhaps I had eaten it on a night when anything warm and sustaining would have tasted good to me.
But I can tell you now that the soup lives up to my memory of it. The secret ingredient, I think, is the red wine, and I used Rapunzel bouillon, which I swear makes the best non-homemade vegetable broth out there. The recipe calls for a garnish of grated cheddar cheese and can be made with beef or chicken broth, but the version I made tonight was vegan, yet had the rich tenor of something that contained meat.
I'll post a photo tomorrow after I've reheated a bowl for lunch. For now, here's the recipe for Winter Comfort Lentil Soup.
Winter Comfort Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons evoo
2 medium onions, chopped
3 carrots, coarsely grated
¾ teaspoon marjoram, crumbled
¾ teaspoon thyme leaves, crumbled
1 28-ounce can peeled, whole tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped
7 cups broth
1½ cups dried lentils
s&p to taste [the salt will not be necessary if you use Rapunzel bouillon]
6 ounces dry red wine
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. If you're using bouillon to make a broth, do so to make a quantity of 7 cups. I used 4 Rapunzel bouillon cubes with 7 cups of water, 1 cup less than would have been called for had I followed the directions on the box.
2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other soup pot, and sauté the onions, carrots, marjoram, and thyme, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, broth, and lentils. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the soup for about 1 hour or until the lentils are tender. Be careful not too overcook the lentils, or they'll turn to mush.
4. Add the salt, if you're using it, pepper, wine, and parsley, and simmer for a few more minutes.
I went full gruel tonight, and served the soup with a loaf of All Whole Wheat bread from August First, the new-ish bakery a couple blocks from my house; my Greek stepmother whipped up my new favorite salad of spicy greens with a lemony vinaigrette.