Six weeks ago I moved to Brooklyn with my husband, Paul-Jean. He got a job in Manhattan so we upped and moved from the heart of Illinois right to the Big Apple. The main thing I’ve noticed since living here is how easy it is to eat out. We have a tremendous amount of excellent food within a few blocks of us. It’s just so easy. And as someone who loves food (like, really loves food), I’ve been having a field day.
The thing is, it’s not cheap. While Paul-Jean and I tend to split a main and an appetizer, it’s still a tremendous amount more than we’d like to spend. Plus there’s nothing like home cooking at the end of the day. At least home cooking in our household.
I grew up in a home where my mother cooked daily. It’s been a passion of hers her entire life. Our dining room perpetually had piles of Bon Appétit magazines in random, precarious stacks. At one point she had almost 20 years worth of them and knew exactly which recipe came from which issue.
Clearly, we love food in our home. So in the spirit of coming back to home cooking after six weeks of pure gluttony, I asked my mom to send me a recipe a week. Both to catalog her cadre of incredible recipes, and to have an excuse to make something yummy and nourishing and homey.
My mom grew up in Israel to parents who hailed from Turkey (my grandmother) and Greece (my grandfather). They both spoke Ladino growing up, the language of pre-inquisition Spanish jews, so our roots go back to Spain, and probably North Africa before that. My grandparents met in Spain, and once World War II hit they took a long trek to Israel via France, Morocco, and Tangier. My mother has three sisters, each born in a different country as the growing family made their way to safety.
The food I grew up with is clearly influenced by our Mediterranean roots. We have a love of simple, clean flavors and lots of fresh, gorgeous veggies.
The first recipe arrived this weekend. Red lentil soup and carrot soup with lima beans. It’s one of my favorites, and Paul-Jean and I enjoyed it tremendously! It was the perfect warming, nourishing food for the first really cold day of the year. I served it with crusty rye bread and roasted broccoli and romanesco.
From my mom:
Anyway, today I made the red lentil and carrot soup with lima beans. Normally I add ginger but I ran out of it, instead I added a handful of fresh mint that I bought in today’s farmers market. Turned out really good. I squeezed fresh lemon juice and a bit of zhoug into my bowl , yum yum.
Carrot and red lentil soup with lima beans
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup red split lentils
1 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed
6 cups water
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
I like to soak the lentils in water for about an hour, rinsing before adding to the pot.
Sauté the onion garlic and ginger in oil over medium heat, just until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
Add carrots and continue to cook until crispy soft.
Add water, lentils and lima beans and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until lentils are tender. Stir in salt and pepper.
Just before serving add the cilantro and stir.