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, 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… 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 sleeps 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 are scattered all over the place in my office.
I know for me personally, constantly seeing and interacting with these slightly regrettable choices 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.
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 have an open jar of marinara in the fridge, that went in instead. 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.
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?).
-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.