my mom, my dad, & the magic of a Mirepoix
gary! jan! lentil soup!
before i launch into this monologue, i’d like to offer you a full disclosure: my parents are the shit. i know most of us think this of our parents, but i can say with utmost certainty that mine are a lot cooler than yours (but i’m sure yours are lovely!!). does your dad play guitar solos on his Les Paul gold top over Snoop Dogg instrumentals? does your mom talk to you about the brilliance of AOC and the latest Pod Save America episodes? who wouldn’t want to hang out with Gary & Jan!! iykyk.
i didn’t always think they were cool, though, and in fact, i thought the opposite. i was a classic angsty teen whom, at my angriest, would storm out of my upper middle-class home with my Discman blasting The Marshall Mathers LP on the clean, mean streets of Huntington Woods, Michigan. i did this frequently and without a hint of irony. i would get mad at my dad for judging my outfits, and i would get mad at my mom for having better style than me (she still does). sometimes i’d get mad at them because i didn’t know what else to feel, and anger felt like the obvious choice, and isn’t that what being a teenager is all about?
it wasn’t until maybe the last five years or so that i started to willingly spending time with my parents. this is not to say that i avoided them, i just would have always rather spent time with my friends, and my parents never made me feel guilty for that. but somewhere between my mom constantly talking about her will (we all know that i will be the executor, are you even kidding) and Covid-19, i decided hey, they’re not that bad!! they always have food that i like to eat, they let me take over the music, and together―often with my aunt jane and uncle ted―we imbibe. and then things get *really* interesting.
when i’m visiting, my dad will often say things to me like, “so what are you obsessed with these days?” which leads to us talking about books and podcasts and TV shows that we want to share with each other. by way of entering the conversation, my mom will pipe in with, “hey, i listened to The Daily today, too! *frowny face emoji*” and then she will make funny faces exclusively for me, which are so hilarious that i will laugh until i can’t catch my breath, which then sends her into a similar spiral. my dad will look between my mom and i during one of these inexplicable fits, smile, and give us an “oh, you goils!” and then proceed to talk about almonds or granola or whatever. it’s fun! what can i say.
i was at their house a few weeks ago for dinner, as i often am, because my mom kept texting about this lentil soup she had made. lentil soup this, lentil soup that. come on laura, what else are you doing this, you need to eat dinner anyway that. FINE!! fine. i get to their house, catch up with my parents on the latest media we’ve been consuming, and then my dad hands me a mug of this soup. and i just want to say before i continue that i didn’t have any control over my body and what happened next. i don’t know how to describe it except that i know my face instantly went into shock and my entire physical being did a double take.
“you MADE this??!” i exclaimed to my mom after one bite. my mom looked at me with equal surprise, as if she couldn’t believe i would even ask the question. i think i actually fell off my chair a little bit because the soup was so delicious, and my dad and i found my response so funny, that we instantly had tears streaming down our faces. look- I HAVE TO TREAD LIGHTLY HERE — my mom is a great cook. my mom… is.. a great.. cook. did i have lentil soup as a kid? no. did i have homemade veggie lasagna as a kid (the thing i request her to make on my birthday as an adult)? somehow also no. but that’s okay, i don’t care! i think my mom is maybe insecure about her cooking because my Aunt Jane and her mom, my Grandma Dorothy, were and are exceptional cooks. like.. the award-winning kind. and who can live up to that? my aunt is the kind of person who has a Chicken Guy at the Farmer’s Market. i know you know the type!! she fashions meals out of vegetables that grow in perpetuity in her garden, and somehow, her meals will often only have like four ingredients. she has every kitchen tool and gadget imaginable, and when she bought it, 50% of the proceeds went to a non-profit benefiting disadvantaged youth. I KNOW YOU KNOW THE TYPE. so i ask again- who can live up to a cook who grows eggplants the size of your head and whose pasta-maker got a kid off the street? you can’t!! my mom is a great cook!
so the lentil soup was so good that i did in fact make it myself not long after that night, and something i came to realize while shopping for ingredients was the Magic of a Mirepoix. i didn’t even know that onions, celery, and carrots together were called that until i saw a pre-packaged container of them at (where else) Trader Joe’s. i considered buying them, but really, i like chopping vegetables myself. even though i could go into a whole other post about the difference in chopped vs diced vs medium diced vs chiffonade, i won’t. i find chopping vegetables oddly soothing, and cooking/prepping to cook with a good podcast on? yes ma’am. the Mirepoix is a delicious trifecta that transports me back to my grandma’s condominium circa the mid to late 90s. a simpler time, literally everybody would say, when all i had to worry about was what kind of rollerblades i was getting for my birthday. and ooooeeeeee olive oil, garlic, celery, carrots, and onion on a low heat? yes. yes. yes. here’s the recipe:
- 1 pound French green lentils
- 4 C. chopped yellow onions
- 4 C. chopped leeks, white part only!!
- 3 C. medium-diced (i can’t with this) celery
- 3 C. medium-diced carrots
- 3 quarts veggie stock
- 1/4 C. tomato paste
- 1/4 C. olive oil
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 1 TBS kosher salt
- 1 1/2 TSP. pepper
- 1 TBS minced thyme ORRRR 1 TSP. dried
- 1 TSP. cumin
- 2 TBS. red wine or red wine vinegar
- parmesan for the top- i like shaved vs grated :)
What you’ll do is:
- in a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minute. drain. (this is actually hilarious because as i’m rereading the recipe, i am only now realizing that i completely skipped this step, and my soup still turned out beautifully)
- in a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until they are tender
- add celery and carrots, saute another 10 minutes
- add veggie stock, tomato paste, & lentils
- cover & bring to a boil!!
- reduce the heat & simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until lentils are cooked through
- add red wine/red wine vinegar (pretty sure i skipped this step, too)
- add parmesan!
yessssssssss. so hearty and so filling. i feel like you really have to have time to make this, though, so probably set aside like 1.5–2 hours. ’til next time!