MY FATHER’S LENTIL SOUP, MEDITERRANEAN STYLE
My son “Chef Joey” is in France, so I’m giving you a recipe for this issue of CECELIA: MY FATHER’S LENTIL SOUP. I learned this recipe decades ago as a teen from watching my Greek father make it from scratch with dry lentils – never lentils in a can. My father made this soup often because it is so good for you. Lentils – you can live on lentils! – they have all the nutrients. You can live on dates, too – they are just as nutritious. In France, where I live part time, everyone eats lentils. They cook them up and make lentil salad, which you dress with oil and vinegar and vegetables and eat cold.
My immigrant mother did not like America – she called it “polar bear country.” But my father had his business here and was always working at his shoe factory … he was a very busy and there was no time to be distracted by us kids and our silly problems.
He was strict and expected his children to do the right thing and think for themselves. We had to show him our hands – no finger-nail-biting allowed. Posture was essential – slouching was not allowed. We had to sit up straight always. I was trained so well that one day the teacher at elementary school told all the kids in class to look at me sitting at my desk: SIT CORRECTLY LIKE NATACHA! she said.
When it came to lentil soup my father was just as strict: REMEMBER, he said, ALWAYS CHOP UP YOUR VEGETABLES FINE. …and never forget a quarter spoonful of crushed red pepper for flavor.
So here it is, my father’s lentil soup recipe…Mediterranean style!
1 lb lentils, dry
1 stalk celery
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1 can of stewed or crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp crushed red peppers
Optional: salt pork
Or bacon – 2 slices
Soak your dry lentil beans in cold water. If they’re fresh that’s 2 hours. If you get them at most supermarkets that’s overnight.
Sautee your vegetables in olive oil or vegetable oil until soft, not brown. But before you do that, sautee your bacon or salt pork. Then add the vegetables, chopped fine, of course.
Add your crushed tomatoes and cook 3 – 5 minutes.
Drain lentils and put them in a stock pot. Add your sauteed veggies and bacon/pork mixture. Add water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat on your stove top, adding water as needed to make a soup. At the very end, if you wish, add sliced hot dogs or kielbasa.