In July 2006, my family and I settled into our assigned seats aboard a plane leaving New York, and flew toward our new lives in Arizona. We gleefully prepared for landing and new experiences. We were ready to hit the ground running. The pilot announced the temperature and something about record highs. I shook my head; Why is it so difficult to hear the pilot on planes?
My parents picked us up at the airport. The temperature in the car read 118 degrees. Again, I shook my head; Why can’t car thermometers ever be accurate?
Our first stop was the kids’ new school. We stepped out of the car and onto the pavement, unprotected from the sun for mere seconds, and hit the ground running—literally this time. We were being barbecued from our feet on up. As I skipped across the parking lot like a stone across water, it occurred to me; I’d heard the pilot just fine and the temperature reading in the car was spot-on!
Within hours of our arrival, my phone began to ring. Family and friends called to chide, “How’s that dry heat?” Some friends!
Lately, I’ve been captivated by photos of the snowfall that bombarded the East Coast. I winced at the headlines: “East Coast Bracing for 24 Inches,” “Schools Closed, Thousands Lose Power, Highways Stand Still.” I heard the sound of my old shovel as I plunged it into the snow. My ears and neck freezing as snow gathered on my scarf, watching helplessly as the approaching snowplow pushed the snow towards the parking spot I just dug out. I shuddered at the thought.
Now, I don’t even own a shovel, rock salt or a snow blower anymore. And the only words swirling in my head are, “How’s that dry heat?” The impish boy in me took control. “Let it snow,” I hummed, as I whipped out my phone; There was a list of people whom I suddenly needed to call… (he-he).
I called. They answered. They complained. I listened. “It took three hours to shovel my car out and the creep next door took my spot!” “The street is a sheet of ice!” “My back is killing me!” Etcetera. It took some time before they realized I was smiling through the phone. Hey, they drew blood first!
After perusing photos of snow-covered towns, I found myself in a lentil soup state of mind. Lentil soup is perfect on a snowy day. When the snow is falling faster than you can shovel, you need a hearty, healthy, thick soup. It “sticks to your ribs” and insulates your body. My snow days may no longer be, but my desire for a heaping bowl of hot soup is alive and kicking. My most amazing discovery is: lentil soup tastes just as good in flip-flops and shorts as it did in boots and snow pants.
Ciao, Bella! io
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Ribs of celery, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 Medium onion, diced
4 Carrots, peeled, cut into ¼ inch rounds
4 Cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb. dry lentils, rinsed
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
12 Cups cold water
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1. Heat oil over medium heat in stockpot. Add celery, onion, carrots, garlic and cook for five minutes.
Add lentils, tomato paste, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer (low boil) for approximately 1 hour. Occasionally stir and skim off any foam.
3. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Use an immersion blender to blend about a quarter of the soup for a thicker consistency. Add a few links of sausage during the first step. Right before serving, remove the link sausage and slice or cube it and add it back into the soup. Or, try adding 3 cups of chopped fresh spinach right before serving.