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A&E >  Food

‘Moosewood’ lentil soup ‘over-the-top’

Before all the snow melts and spring sets in, I thought I’d clear the decks on a soup request.

Back in January, Janet Peterson of Spokane wrote in asking about the “absolutely-over-the-top- delicious lentil soup recipe” served at the Rockwood Bakery on the South Hill.

Rockwood owner Kammy Magnuson sheepishly admitted her secret. They use the recipe from Mollie Katzen’s “Moosewood Cookbook.”

“It’s such a great recipe,” Magnuson said. “I’d like to take credit for it.”

Katzen’s recipe is a simple and healthful affair. Lentils, herbs and veggies are all cooked together into a filling soup. When I tested it at home, I tweaked it just a bit to appeal to my family’s taste.

I added a bay leaf to boost flavor. Also, I wanted to deepen the vegetable flavor, so I sautéed the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in a bit of olive oil until they started to caramelize, then added them to the pot of lentils. Sure, it meant I had an extra pan to wash, but it was worth it to bring out the veggies’ natural sweetness.

One also could sauté the veggies in the soup pot first, and remove them before cooking the lentils. Then it’s a matter of simply adding them back in at the appropriate time.

One final note: Katzen doesn’t specify whether to use dried or fresh herbs. I used dried herbs in the suggested amounts and was pleased with the results. If you use fresh, I would increase the quantities from ½ teaspoon to ½ tablespoon.

Lentil Soup

From “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen

3 cups dry lentils

7 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

6 to 8 medium cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups chopped onion

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 medium carrots, sliced or diced

½ to 1 teaspoon basil (optional)

½ teaspoon thyme (optional)

½ teaspoon oregano (optional)

Lots of freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

Red wine vinegar, to drizzle on top

Place lentils, water and salt in a kettle. Bring to a boil, lower heat to the slowest possible simmer, and cook quietly, partially covered, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add vegetables (except tomatoes), herbs (if using) and black pepper. Partially cover and let simmer peacefully another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat a medium saucepan of water to boiling, Drop in the tomatoes for 10 seconds, then take them out, peel off the skins and squeeze out the seeds. Chop the remaining pulp and add to the soup. Let the soup cook for at least 5 minutes more.

Serve hot, with a drizzle of vinegar on top of each steaming bowlful.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Looking for a recipe? Have a food question? Carolyn Lamberson would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or e-mail to cooksnotebook@ Please include your full name and city of residence. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.
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