The cold is exhausting, apparently. Or maybe it was the baby who seemed to be awake all night? Perhaps the toddler whose will is strengthening at the same pace as his clever mind is developing creative ways to get around me? Or the 2:30pm twilight and the 3:30pm darkness? I’m taking my vitamins, and I thought it would be enough, but I have spent most days willing my way through while piles of to-be-folded laundry gathered on the floor and my hair that is falling out by the fistful pooled on each stair.
I wanted to think on deep things, write complex words, but all I could do was sit for hours on the couch with my feet up and a mug of tea in my hands. It was simple, quiet restoration. I needed to fall asleep with our baby in my arms at 1am only to wake up at 5am. Both of us slept. Not my idea of how either of us should be sleeping, but we were sleeping.
I thought I wanted to feast at a table of complex food, but the truth is I needed the basics. I made this soup last night, and it felt like I was really cooking for the first time in weeks, and this after cooking multiple meals almost daily for the past month.
Maybe it’s just better when life is simple? When you’re thankful to make it to the finish line even if you weren’t striding toward it with a winning time? Maybe you need some of this soup in your life instead of that fancy stuffed something you had in mind?
Tomato, Lentil and Kale Soup (adapted from The Muffin Myth)
I used The Muffin Myth’s recipe as a base, but I gave the soup an Asian flavour by adding ginger, cumin, coriander and cinnamon. It’s an excellent soup without the modifications, but Husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this “Indian” version of it.
2 cups small green or beluga lentils
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 cartons (500g each) of diced tomatoes, including juices
4 cups vegetable broth
2 fistfuls of kale (or more, depending on your tastes)
salt and pepper
1. Cook the lentils in a small pot of water until just tender (I slightly undercooked mine at this stage because they will cook in the soup later). Drain and set aside.
2. In a larger pot, sautee your chopped onion in olive oil until the onions turn a lovely brown shade. Add the crushed garlic and sautee for 30 seconds or so, then add the crushed ginger. It’s good if you have all your spices ready so that the garlic and ginger don’t stick to the pan too much. Add in the cinnamon, cumin and coriander. (Note: we love cumin, but if you’re not sure, start with a smaller amount like 1 teaspoon and then keep adding to the soup once it’s all in the pot. Also, the original recipe adds the chili flakes here but I skipped that because I want the toddler to eat it as well.) Stir it all together.
3. Add the boxes of tomato, and stir well. We use boxes because I try to avoid canned tomotoes, but those would be fine as well. Add the vegetable stock, and continue stirring. Check if it needs salt (a very important part of the cooking process if you’re a salt-a-holic like me), and add some and add pepper as well. Bring the soup to a boil then turn it down to simmer.
4. Add the lentils to the soup, set a timer for 15 minutes and let it all come together. This is where I would check to see if you want to add more cumin or cinnamon or any spice you think would go with it.
5. After 15 minutes, add in the two fistfuls of kale and let it cook for five minutes or so. If the soup is too thick because of the lentils, add in some water or vegetable stock.
6. Enjoy in bowls on a cold evening.