My blogging has been sporadic at best lately. I’ve just spent a week in Alberta and there was a variety of demands on either side of that trip that needed attending to. So, I was really — no, really — looking forward to sitting down today to write one last post from our now seemingly long-past vacation at the lake. (Is it truly only a month since we returned home?)
I made a soup during our last week there that I thought you might like to read about and perhaps make for yourself. We enjoyed it on the beach, and shared bowls with our cottage neighbours, who liked it enough that I gave them more later for their dinner. (It’s so gratifying when people appreciate my cooking – thank you, ladies!)
It was the first week of September and zucchini were in great abundance, so the star of the soup was settled before I even got to the local market. I found a lovely yellow one, and since I didn’t have a scale I remember planning to tell you that it was about the size of my forearm (fortunately I have a picture of said zucchini, so you can judge for yourself). There were onions and garlic, vegetable stock, lentils (French green, I think) for body and protein, and maybe some chopped tomato. Yes, there definitely was because I see one in the photos. Oh, and I was so pleased with the grand finish for this soup — not my usual splash of wine or vinegar to brighten it up and make the flavours shine, but instead a dollop of whole grain mustard. Also, I was intrigued to discover that this soup, somewhat unusually, tasted better on the first day. I don’t know why, but it did and I thought it would be important for you to know that.
If you’re wondering why my memory seems a bit off, I should tell you that the problem is that I can’t find the recipe. I jotted everything down in a notepad at the cottage as I was making it. I brought it back home with me, where it stayed safely until the night before I left for Alberta. I had the idea (now proved over-optimistic) that I would be able to write this post while away. So I ripped the recipe out of the pad and took it with me.
My plan did not come to pass and now I can’t find the piece of paper. I know exactly what it looks like: a small sheet of monogrammed stationery from some hotel, with the recipe scribbled in green ink, folded in three and put … where? It’s not in my wallet, purse or the backpack I carried my computer in. Should it turn up, I’ll add the recipe to this post.
In the meantime, for the adventurous among you, I think there’s enough information here to take a crack at making this soup for yourself. There’s every chance yours could turn out even better than mine with your contribution of imagination and flair.
Despite the lack of an actual recipe, I thought I’d go ahead and tell you this story. And also, the pictures turned out so nice it seemed a shame to let them go to waste.
Now I’m going to go look for that piece of paper again.
As it turns out the joke’s on me because, almost as soon as I was ready to publish this post, what happened but I found the recipe. In the purse that I’d already searched! Isn’t that how these things go? I decided to leave the story above unchanged, hopefully for your entertainment.
Before I move on to the recipe, though, I’d like to tell you that while I was in Calgary I had the very good fortune to meet with Barb, or Smidge as many of us also know her, from the beautiful blog Just a Smidgen. We met for coffee on my last day in Alberta and chatted effortlessly for an hour and a half. After all, we’ve gotten to know each other through our blogs for almost the last two years now, and already knew we had lots in common.
I was curious about meeting Barb IRL (in real life, in real English). After all, can we really get to know someone through a computer screen? Well, as it turns out Barb is as gracious and pleasant as I had expected her to be. I hope we’ll have the chance to meet again.
If you haven’t visited Just a Smidgen, don’t wait, go now! Barb’s lifestyle blog is one of my favourites. She shares food and crafts, illuminated with exquisite photography and even heartfelt poetry, in a way that’s artistic yet accessible. It’s no wonder she’s won so many awards.
With no scale and only a small measuring cup, the best way I had of describing the size of the zucchini I used is “about the size of my forearm,” with a photograph to provide a more visual guide. But remember, when it comes to vegetables, most measurements are approximations (at least in my style of cooking).
If adding whole grain mustard to finish the soup seems just a little too weird to you, or you don’t like mustard, you could substitute either 1 to 2 tbsp vinegar (I think red wine vinegar would work with this flavour profile) or 1/4 cup white wine. It makes such a difference to the final flavour of a soup like this. If I may press the case for the mustard, though, not only does it add flavour but all those yellowy grains look so appealing floating in the broth.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 1 large yellow zucchini, trimmed and diced large
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 900 ml vegetable stock (I prefer low sodium, organic)
- 1/2 cup French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
Heat the olive oil over low heat and sweat the onions while you’re prepping the rest of the vegetables, stirring occasionally to be sure they don’t brown. Stir in the zucchini and tomatoes. Add the stock, then the lentils and the seasonings. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes until the lentils are tender and the flavours have melded. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Add the whole grain mustard shortly before serving. It should brighten and “lift” the character of the soup; taste again to determine if you’d like to add a little more.
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