I will never forget that amazing smell permeating my senses as I walked into the kitchen of my parents’ house years ago. They were still living in their Portland house then and the backdoor, always unlocked for welcome visitors, opened directly into the kitchen. Instantly, I went toward the pot on the stove top to see what deliciousness was simmering underneath the lid. It was a rare occasion to see the stock pot out and in use so I knew this was something really good!
Lifting the lid, I inhaled the fantastic smell of fragrant spices. I had never known my mom to prepare this dish. Asking her what it was, she replied “Lentil Soup”. I remember being so surprised that Mom was moving outside “the box” and creating new dishes using ingredients once foreign to her. At the time, she had recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure. I remember that she made a conscious effort to change the way she cooked and ate food. It was really branching out for her and to see that soup on the stove top! I was impressed.
Had I known then how far she would actually come in the variety and style of her cuisines, this lentil soup seems mundane in comparison. Thanks most exclusively to my daughter, my mom stepped way outside her comfort zone in trying new recipes and new foods to appease her beloved granddaughter.
All grown up and a beautiful young woman living her dreams in Boston right now, Sarah is my oldest child and the first grandchild to both sets of grandparents. She is grandma’s girl. My child, bless her heart, dedicated time weekly to have overnight visits with Gma, as she called her. She would often spend weekends with my mom when my parents moved to Vancouver, trekking out on public transit so that the two of them could have cooking time together. Creatively inspired cooking was just one of the many things Sarah could coax my mom into doing. She transformed my mom in so many ways, creating diverse cuisines being just a small piece of their shared experiences.
Sarah’s dynamo personality and passion for life was enticing for my mom and completely opposing to her passive, quiet demeanor. One of the most profound things Sarah imparted on my mom is her passionate belief about food choices being quality local and organic products, with ethnic and regional diversity. She stressed the importance of trying new dishes. This definitely changed the “meat and potatoes” mentality instilled in my mom. To the end of her life, I saw the reflection of my daughter in my mom with her openness for medicinal foods and willingness to try alternative remedies for her disease.
I am missing my mom so much these days. I have “felt” her in ways I have not previously. It is with her essence I created this lentil dish. Not quite a soup, and a bit over cooked, this dish still tastes delicious and pairs well with a fragrant brown rice.
The end result in quality and appearance is less than desired for me, but my heart feels grateful. This is what I love about cooking; somewhere in this process I find calm and I feel centered once again. In addition, I am always quite satisfied with the ease of meal preparations for days to come.
This lentil dish fed us for a couple dinners and provided enough to fill a few containers for lunches!
Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try:
Dice 1 small onion
mince 2 garlic cloves
Cut 3 carrots into rounds
Add to pot and saute’ in 1 Tblsp of Olive Oil for 2-3 mins until carrots are just tender.
1 Tblsp Curry
1 1/2 tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/8 tsp Cardamom
1 Cup Red Lentils, rinsed
Saute’ with spices and vegetables for 3 minutes then,
4 cups of broth or water ( I used 2 cups of vegetable broth and 2 cups of water)
Cover and simmer until lentils are cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.
5 minutes before serving add:
2 cups baby spinach
stir slightly, then cover until spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
Serve over a fragrant brown rice or enjoy as is!