Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup -- #recipe

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Since our trip to Paris in January to see the Leonardo exhibit at the Louvre, we’ve been recreating French classics in the kitchen, like this Warm Goat Cheese Salad. More to come, I promise!

And yes, the exhibit was fabulous! Held in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death, in France, in 1519, it ran only 4 months, so when we found out about it in late October, we didn't have long to plan. Why so short? Because 130 of the 160+ pieces were borrowed from museums around the world, and no museum that owns a Leonardo wants to let it go for very long, but all recognized that this was truly an important, and magnificent, exhibit.

The modern American goddess of French food, Dorie Greenspan, says lentil soup is the top pick among Frenchmen for favorites their mothers used to make. This is not the lentil soup you cooked up in your first apartment after college. (I still remember going on a mid-winter trip to the Washington Coast with half a dozen girlfriends, thirty-some years ago. It was a potluck weekend, featuring three pots of lentil soup, a lot of brown rice, and very sturdy whole-wheat muffins. And red wine. It was cold and windy and we walked a lot and ate and drank every bite.)

Greenspan says she made this recipe for years and one day, happened to walk by the stove while it was simmering with the peel of a clementine she’d just eaten in hand. She tossed it in. It’s an unusual addition, but we enjoyed it—the hint of citrus adds a fresh, bright, lively touch, just what the stomach and soul need now and again, and not just in winter.

The observant among you will note that the piece of orange peel floating in my soup pot is larger than what the recipe calls for. I admit, I got carried away. Go with the recipe.

Lardons are strips of bacon blanched for about one minute in boiling water, drained and patted dry, then cooked like regular bacon. The blanching removes the smoky flavor; you might prefer to skip the boiling stage and leave that flavor in. Nice either way, but optional. Greenspan says the time the lentils will take to cook depends on their age, an interesting detail.

This soup keeps well. It pairs nicely with a loaf of country-style bread, but whole-wheat muffins wouldn’t be amiss either, even if you don’t plan a blustery afternoon watching the tides.

During this difficult time, I'm celebrating independent booksellers. Order a book from an indie -- online or locally -- then pop over to my Facebook Author page and tell me about it. When the chaos ends and bookstores reopen, I'll choose a winner of a book of mine or a bookstore gift card.

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup

Adapted from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan (2010, Houghton Mifflin)

2 tablespoons olive oil
large white or yellow onion
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (save the leaves if there are any)
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup green lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 strip orange or tangerine peel, about 1X2 inches, with pith removed; cut in thirds before adding
6-8 black peppercorns
3-4 coriander seeds or 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2-3 cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
plain yogurt, for topping
4 strips of bacon, cooked as lardons or the usual way, and crumbled (optional)
Warm the oil in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the onions, celery and leaves, and carrots, and stir until the vegetables begin to glisten. Cover and cook, stirring often, until they soften but don’t color, about 10 minutes.

Add broth, lentils, citrus peel, peppercorns, coriander, cloves, and ginger. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer until the lentils are soft, 60-90 minutes. After about 45 minutes, add a generous amount of salt, at least a teaspoon, and pepper.

When lentils are fully cooked, puree—spices, leaves, peel, and all—in batches in a blender or food processor, returning to pot, or with the heat off, in the pot using an immersion blender. If you use an immersion blender, it may be slightly chunky. Reheat.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle with the lardons or bacon if you’d like.

Reheats nicely. If it gets thick, you may want to add a little broth or water before reheating; if you do, you may need to add more salt and pepper.

Serves 6. Pair with a good loaf of bread and a bottle of dry white French wine or pinot noir.

Bon appetit!

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is now nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Gotta love Dorie Greenspan! If we get some citrus fruit this week I'll definitely try this with my last bag of lentils. Thanks, Leslie!

  2. I am very fond of lentil soup. Not only was the strip of citrus peel a new idea to me, but also the choice of spices! Looking forward to giving this one a try.

    1. They are different, aren't they, but they come together beautifully. Enjoy!