Today I was an extra on the set of a commercial, which took up a lot of the day. By the time it was over I was starving, as of course nobody caters for vegetarians at these things, and just as I was getting off the bus I remembered my red lentils. I couldn’t find any onions at the shops near my house, but eventually purchased some spring onions and came home excited about my recipe. Are you excited? You should be!
10 years ago, my dearest mother taught me how to make lentil soup, before I left for university. I never actually recreated it, but I have a fairly good memory (hah, hah). Just a lack of ingredients — no onions, and not a spice in sight. A challenge! I chopped up the whites of the spring onions and threw them in some ancient olive oil (It can’t be much more than 6 months old… Even in an unsealed bottle, it seems to have survived). Here are my pseudo-onions, being stirred with a chopstick.
I could probably have found a more suitable utensil, but I knew that if I stepped away for even a second, it would burn. This is Rosie’s Rule of Cooking: if I step away from the stove, it burns. It’s pretty simple.
Then I remembered I hadn’t finished rinsing the lentils (they’d been soaking for a couple of minutes). This meant taking a step to the sink, quickly rinsing them, stepping back to the stove — of course, the spring onions had started to burn. No matter. The little burnt bits make it look like there’s spices in there. Lentils go in, with boiling water poured on top.
Choppy the Chopstick helps out!
Everything gets brought to the boil and then you’re supposed to simmer it for like, 20 minutes. Or something. My mother’s recipe? I kept adding boiling water as I’d massively under-estimated how much I’d need, and fished out the burnt bits of onion. I was getting bored, so without leaving the stove, as I knew it would all BURN if I did, I cast my eyes around for something to do. I knew it was going to be relatively bland without any spices, and was suddenly was struck with inspiration.
I honestly considered adding some orange (those green fruit are oranges) but fortunately limited myself to the baby tomatoes that came with my pineapple. I also added a baked sweet potato from the market.
Not this sweet potato, but as you can tell I’d already used Choppy to gut the one I added to the soup, so it stood in as a model, in case you were confused about what sweet potato looks like.
Things were starting to smell good. I suddenly remembered how you’re supposed to taste things. It’s hard to eat soup with a chopstick, so I found a spoon. I tasted. IT TASTED REALLY GOOD. I added some salt. It tasted EVEN BETTER. No-one is more surprised than I.
Here it is, looking vaguely food-styled in a bowl. I even shoved some greenery on top to look more pro.
It took a lot of self-control not to empty the saucepan. But I don’t know if I can still “get along” with lentils *sadface* so I have had just the one bowl. With toast. So delicious. So vegan. So NOT TAIWANESE, so NOT DISGUSTINGLY SWEET, so NOT SOAKED IN OIL. You get my point? HAPPY.
One last picture in the “crappy phone camera” Masterchef category:
And now, the washing-up.