Sunday, January 2, 2011

Souper Sunday: Lentil Spinach Soup

I gave myself a very unusual gift for my 40th birthday years ago. Feng shui school. I spent an incredible week on retreat in the woods of Brown County, Indiana, studying intensively with Master Teacher, Carol Bridges, along with a handful of other students from around the country. I appreciated the bounty of the natural setting (see photo). I appreciated all that I learned about creating sacred space. But, boy oh boy, I really appreciated the nourishing meals. We had the good fortune to have our lunch and dinner catered by Erika Yochum. We feasted on her amazing vegetarians meals made with love and locally grown ingredients. Had we done nothing else that week other than hike in the woods and bask in Erika's cooking, it would have been well worth the time and tuition to me. I was smart enough to buy her handmade cookbooks while I was there and have enjoyed the recipes so much since ... so many great memories! I did a quick Google search and discovered that she now owns a restaurant in Bloomington called Feast. I must go. So should you. (Any of my local pals up for a road trip?)

Here is a favorite soup that was served while I was at school. I've made it many times since. It freezes and reheats well:

LENTIL SPINACH SOUP - Erika Yokum, Harvest Lodge Organic Farm

1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
1 celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 bay leaf
7 cups water
1 large red onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 pound (bunch) washed spinach, no stems, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 teaspoon salt
Red wine vinegar to taste
Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Place lentils, bay leaf, and celery in soup pot with water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil and then simmer until lentils are tender. Heat oil in skillet and add onion plus 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook on high for a few minutes, then lower heat and add garlic and parsley. Cook until onions are soft. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes and then combine with lentils. When lentils are soft, stir in spinach. When the spinach has cooked down, add some water if needed. Taste for additional salt. Simmer for 5 additional minutes and then add vinegar to taste to lighten the flavors. Serve with parmesan cheese, black pepper or a spoonful of sour cream.

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