Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spicy lentil soup, and another rejection

What is it about soup that makes you feel so warm and snuggly inside, so safe and protected? Maybe it's because you must eat it out of a bowl, and when you wrap your hands around it, the warmth seeps through your palms and the smells drift up and you feel like a child again, sitting down for lunch, your mother invisible in the background, but still there.

I rarely eat soup in the summer. Once winter comes, I can't get enough. With the darkness creeping in and the temps lowering (it was 15 when I came back from my run today), my belly craves warm, thick, spicy tastes.

Since I'm getting over a nasty flu, I decided to make lentil soup with a lot of onions, garlic and kale, for immune boosting properties. As an added kick, I chopped up two jalapeno peppers and a healthy dash of red chili pepper flakes.

Veggies before I butchered them for the soup.

As I waited for the soup to cook in the crockpot, I worked on my novel, ran nine miles (and met up with a mother a baby moose), took a long bath with a Margaret Atwood novel and checked my email.

Of course there was another rejection waiting for me: WomenArts Quarterly Journal doesn't want my nonfiction essay, "Eating." The piece is about my sister, who died of complications of an eating disorder, so maybe that's why I baked cornbread. Suddenly, I wanted (needed?) a thick slice of cornbread slathered with margarine. I wanted it more than anything.

So I baked up a batch, adding chili flakes, since I had used all the jalapenos in the soup. I slid it in the oven and MM and I took the dog for the walk in the dark, with the snow hard and crisp beneath our boots.

When we walked back in the door, the smells of soup and cornbread greeted us and I swear, my eyes almost filled with tears, I felt so hungry and yet so grateful. I filled a large bowl with soup, cut two big pieces of cornbread, spread on margarine, sat down and ate. The tastes slid across my tongue and the peppers burned my throat, and it was warm and soothing, like a nice, long hug. 

Sometimes I wish I said grace before meals. I don't now and probably never will. But tonight, I wish I had.

Spicy Lentil Soup

1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 cups lentils
1 onion
4 celery stalks
2 cups chopped carrots
4-5 chopped garlic cloves
2 large jalapeno peppers, chopped
4 cups kale, chopped
Chili pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Throw all the ingredients in a crockpot, crank it up on high level (for 5-6 hour soup) or low (for 8-10 hour soup). Serve in large bowls with goat cheese and chopped bell pepper topping. Serves 6-8 small appetites or 4 hungry Alaska runners.


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