One of my earliest food memories of being struck by the taste of a new food (in a good way) revolves around a lentil soup. I was about 8 years old, at a friend’s house for a play date. The friend was named Celia and I will forever remember her and her mother, not because Celia became a good friend – that may have been the only play date we ever had -- but because her mother served up cups of lentil soup for lunch. There were slices of frankfurter in the broth, and I remember the distinct flavor of bay leaf (another new flavor). It was the first thing I told my mother about when I went home; I wanted it again.
I can’t remember whether or not my mother then went out and bought cans of Campbell’s Lentil Soup (she certainly didn’t make it). But when I began to cook I delved into lentils, and not just because they were cheap and I was vegetarian. It’s the distinctive, profound flavor of this small, easy to cook legume that has always had a hold on me. Their delicious broth is as comfortable with seasonings from every corner of the Mediterranean basin as it is with Indian or even Mexican spices.
I made two new lentil salads this week, a simple lentil and tomato stew and a lentil and quinoa pilaf. I also made a wonderful new Greek phyllo pie filled with the leftovers of the lentil and tomato stew. All posting on Recipes for Health and NYTCooking the week of October 12, 2014.