I was born in July, dead-smack in the middle of summer, and frequently use it as an excuse for absolutely hating cold weather. "But you're from Boston," my friends would remark, "You should be used to the cold."
Well, it's the one part of me that never got New England-ified (that and total disinterest in the Red Sox.) Despite spending most of my life in cold northern climates, I somehow never got used to frigid weather. In winter, I'm usually much more bundled up than anyone around me. In the summer, even during heat waves, I'm the girl who takes a cardigan everywhere, just in case there's air-conditioning on overdrive somewhere in the city. I take hot showers as soon as it dips below 80 degrees.
The only thing comforting about the colder seasons is the food. Or more specifically, big bubbling pots of soup.
Recently I made a big pot of orange-scented lentil soup out of Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. I've made lentil soup hundreds of times in various forms, but have never thought to put orange peels to add a nice citrus aroma. I had to add a bit more orange peel and coriander than the recipe suggested to get the light citrus scent, but it was a nice change from the lentil soup I usually make.
Another big change I made was not puréeing the soup. Despite my classical French culinary training, from which I learned that all soups should take a spin in a blender or food processor at the end, I've always found this extra step too fussy for cooking at home. I like my vegetables whole (and don't they retain more nutrients that way?) I also switched out the yogurt topping and bacon for a simpler punch of parsley. But all in all, Ms. Greenspan's recipe is a keeper.
Orange-Scented Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 strip orange or tangerine peel, about 3 x 2 inches, cut into 3 pieces
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes, until they're very softened but not brown.
- Add the broth, lentils, citus peels, coriander, clove, and ginger. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Toss in the carrots. Cover the pot and gently simmer until the lentils are softened, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt (at the very least 1 teaspoon) and pepper.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with parsley, and serve.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table