I had another recipe all queued up ready to go. It was a salad I had thrown together for a lunch that was pretty tasty. Aaron deemed it, unprompted, blogworthy. The photographs were beautiful, among the best that I’ve taken yet. It was simple and fast, two categories that my recipes are admittedly lacking in. But when I went to write about it my words felt dry. I struggled for an hour before dashing off to work. Over the past few days I’ve tried to find my angle in, but eventually I realized that I just don’t feel strongly enough about it to share with you here.
There’s a lot of advice floating out there on the internet about blogging and how to do it best. Find your niche, some say. So you blog about dessert? Try writing only about chocolate! Put out content quickly, others say. The more content you have, the more google-able you are. You want to be google-able, don’t you? Use less words! More photos! Promote more on pinterest! Do giveaways! Everyone loves free things! Don’t fall in love. Perfect is the enemy of good. Don’t put anything up that you wouldn’t want to follow you around for the rest of your life. Have your site design ready before you start. Don’t worry about site design yet, just start. Always measure out the amount of chopped vegetables you need. One medium onion is not one medium onion. Never measure out the amount of chopped vegetables you need. We know what one medium onion looks like. The advice is interesting and useful, until it’s not anymore.
I’ve been trying to be more present here than I have in the past. I’ve also been trying to make sure I’m not putting out content for the sake of putting out content. There’s a tension inherent in these two ideas. There may be some bloggers who could just document their dinner every night, but I am not that person. Not everything I cook fits neatly into what I do in this space. After working in restaurants, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook on my night off. And sometimes I have a good idea that’s not quite ready to be released. I’m trying to find the middle ground, between doing good work and allowing myself to not always be working.
So I threw together this lentil minestrone before work last week. I had some vegetable broth that I made earlier in the week that was begging to be used. It was a chilly sort of morning, so I wanted something hearty and warming. I also wanted something nutrient dense and filling, and just slightly different than my normal lentil soup. I found my answer in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, one of my favorite all-purpose, can’t-go-wrong, encyclopedic references.
It’s easy, comforting, and you may already have all the ingredients in your pantry. If you omit the cheese, it’s vegan, and if you want it to be gluten-free, it’s easy enough to switch out the pasta. I ate this soup for three days in a row and each day I ate this soup I felt a subtle but significant energy boost. I couldn’t wait to come here and share it with you. Some days there’s no tension- just a recipe screaming to be shared.
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
You could make this soup with either vegetable broth or water. I split the difference, using three cups of homemade broth and six cups of water. You could also cook the pasta and kale in the soup themselves and save a pot, but I wouldn’t- the pasta kept its shape much better being cooked separately.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup beluga lentils
9 cups vegetable broth or water, or a combination of both
3/4 teaspoon tamari
4 ounces small pasta, such as fusilli
1 bunch of tuscan kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
Olive oil, to serve
Parmesan Cheese, to serve
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and warm. Add the onion and stir well. Let cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are starting to take on a golden color and smell wonderful. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Stir well and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Add the lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the tamari and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
While the soup is simmering bring another pot of water to boil. Salt generously, then add the pasta. Cook according to package directions or until tender. This changes depending on the type of pasta and the brand, but is usually somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes. Scoop the pasta out using a slotted spoon or a spider and place into a large bowl. In the same boiling water add the kale. Cook for two minutes, until tender and bright green. Drain the water.
To serve, combine the pasta, kale, and soup. Drizzle with olive oil and top with shavings of parmesan.