Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a traveling stranger who was making his way home. Some say he was a soldier who was on his way home from a war. He had a very long way to go and all his provisions were gone. The only thing he had left was a very large cooking pot.
He came upon a village and asked some of the villagers for a little food. He was so terribly hungry. But the villagers were a little afraid of him and he did look so rough and dirty. Besides, we need the food for ourselves, they thought. No one would spare a morsel for the poor hungry stranger. They all sent him away.
The stranger was a clever man. He knew how people think, so he devised a cunning plan. Outside the village was a stream where everyone would come to collect water. He built a fire, placed a large stone in the bottom of his cooking pot and poured in some water from the stream. He placed is pot on the fire and waited.
Soon a young woman came to collect water from the stream. She saw the stranger and his boiling cauldron. 'What are you cooking?' she asked. 'Stone soup' he said. 'You are welcome to share my soup'. And he offered her a taste. Of course, it was awful! 'It would taste much better if I only had a carrot or two.' he said. Off the young woman went to fetch a carrot for the pot.
And so it goes as each villager comes to collect water and is sent back home for a contribution to the soup. In the end, the pot is full and a wonderful soup is shared by all.
What does this have to do with my lunch? Well, I felt like the hungry traveler when I opened the fridge and found a wilted leek, a jug of chicken stock and very little else. Yes, that is a big rock and not a potato. Like I said, we are making Stone Soup!
That's the great thing about soup, you can take a little bit of this and a little of that and make something so delicious and filling. I found a few red lentils in the cupboard and some spices so I think we can leave out the stone.
Here is my recipe for Stone-Free Red Lentil Soup
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion or leek - chopped
1 carrot- chopped
1 stick celery - didn't have it - didn't miss it
1 or 2 cloves garlic- minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup red lentils- picked over and well rinsed in cool water
3 - 4 cups stock or water - stock cubes are great for soup making
Saute the vegetables in the oil for about five minutes or until they soften. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 minute longer. Pour in three cups of stock or water and the lentils. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook the lentils until they are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes. You may need to add a little stock or water as the lentils cook. They will absorb a lot of liquid.
Remove from the heat and carefully puree into soup. I use a stick blender. They are great little gadgets for making soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread or some hot corn bread muffins.
Oh I forgot one last step... return stone to garden. The End!