Maybe it’s because things are a little hairy right now with my book coming out (3 more sleeps yikes), or maybe because it’s almost Spring, or maybe I just have an inkling of major movement on the horizon, but I have this strong urge to simplify my life lately. I’ve been purging things with a lightness in my heart that tells me this is the way forward. The weird, non-labelled spices in my cupboards, the facial serums that didn’t live up to their promises, the jeans that I know I’ll never wear again but feel the need to hang onto because they were spendy… I’m trying to clear all this noise out in the most responsible way possible. It feels like I’m making room for a greater force of love and intention in my life.
I wouldn’t say that we’re cluttered or materialistic in any way, but I also wouldn’t say that we’ve been overly intentional with our purchases these last couple years. We have one dog, but she has 3 beds (and she also elects to sleep on the couch or our bed most of the time). Our main hall/stairway has been painted 3 times in 3 years (shoutout to my sneaky mom who painted it the perfect shade of grey while we were in California). I have 2 fancy filing systems, very cute file folders from several stationary purveyors, but my bills/invoices/what-have-you are scattered all over the place in my office. You should see our collection of area rugs that have bit the dust–they’re fashioned into a floor mosaic for our laundry area in the basement now. Don’t even start on my dish/kitchen gadget collection.
I know for me personally, constantly seeing and interacting with these slightly regrettable choices/things that I can do without weighs me down. It takes up space in my home, but also inside my day-to-day consciousness. The awareness of the excess, and the associated guilt, bleeds into totally unrelated tasks and conversations. If I have any slight amount of stress or pressure happening in my life, it’s compounded by the presence of this unnecessary stuff. I’m a highly sensitive person that takes everything and everyone seriously. I think I’m at a tipping point, and I know that I can’t dilute my energy and resources by living with things that I don’t completely and utterly love/use anymore.
I think sometimes we bring these items into our homes with the thought of a certain promise that our lives will be made better or easier just by having those things around. Your own daily practices/approach and ability to live simply is what really brings that satisfaction though. Every once in a while, I get a flash of a reminder of this. When I really get rolling with the great simplification of my life and home, I’ll keep you guys in the loop. Maybe I’ll share a little link list of the resources that helped me? Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in talking about this (or if you have any resources of your own/wisdom to share).
If you didn’t already know, simplification via cooking is an easy and necessary move for me. A couple weeks ago when I wanted to make a lentil stew, I got too caught up in the process before noticing that I was out of tinned tomatoes. Since I always, always have an open jar of marinara in the fridge, that went in instead. The stew was incredible! Why wasn’t I doing this more often? The marinara has that slow-simmered flavour of onions, garlic etc. built in. It’s a good lazy move when you need that homemade and cozy vibe on short notice. For this stew, I soak French lentils overnight so they cook up twice as fast, and I load the whole thing up with greens while I’m at it. This is endlessly adaptable to what you have on hand, and perfect for these last (brutal) gasps of Winter we’re having here. Stay cozy out there :D
SIMPLE LENTIL & GREENS SOUP RECIPE
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: Makes 2 litres/quarts, about 6 hearty servings
NOTES: Since you’re really relying on the marinara to bring it flavour-wise, make sure you use one that you absolutely love on its own. I’m a Rao’s girl for life, and always will be (unless there’s homemade around, but who am I kidding here?). If you have a Sam’s Club membership, they have a large format bottle of it for an excellent price 👌
-I used small dices of fresh broad beans as my bonus vegetable here, so I threw them in near the end of the cooking process. If you opt for something more dense and aromatic, like small dices of carrot/winter squash or celery/fennel, add it to the pot when you’re sautéing the onions. Tender veg like beans, small dices of zucchini, or chopped asparagus should be added right before the greens.
-Soaking the lentils for at least 8 hours is what cuts down on the cook time here. If you forgot to soak your lentils, give them an extra 10 minutes to simmer until slightly tender.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, small dice
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup French lentils, soaked for at least 8 hours and drained
2 cups marinara sauce
6 cups vegetable stock
1 heaped cup small-diced vegetable of choice (see headnote)
4 cups chopped greens of choice (roughly one bunch–I used a mixture of lacinato kale and dandelion)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chili flakes and stir. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to integrate with the onions. Add the French lentils and stir to coat.
Add the marinara and stock to the pot and stir. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Simmer the soup until the lentils are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the heaped cup of diced vegetables and continue to simmer the soup until the added vegetables are slightly softened. Add the red wine vinegar, chopped greens and plenty of salt and pepper. Keep simmering the soup until the greens are wilted. Serve the soup hot.
-If you’re still thinking about getting my book, you can take advantage of the pre-order bonus up until March 14th. Just as a reminder, that’s 10 additional recipes (not in the book and not on this site) for hearty, plant-based main courses. This is my gift to you!
-If you’d like to get a feel for what some people have been cooking from my book already, you can cruise the #FirstMessCookbook hashtag on Instagram HERE. You can also check out the top section of my cookbook page under the “BLOG LOVE” heading to see some recipes that have been beautifully shared by some very kind and talented people.
-All information for pre-ordering the book, retailers, and how to claim your bonus collection of recipes is detailed HERE at the bottom of the page.
-If you’re in Toronto and looking for a good time next Thursday evening, come hang out with me at The Detox Market for the launch of my book! Here’s the poster with all info below. There will be snacks from the book and refreshments by Greenhouse Juice Co. You can just show up! Hugs are free :)