Last night for supper I made Lentils, Monastery Style a favorite recipe from Diet for a Small Planet. These days I access the recipe on my iPad having long since lost the paperback copy of the cookbook that I first used, back when I was in my early 30s. If I still had the paperback it most likely would have gone the route of my other cookbooks from that era, the Vegetarian Epicure or the original Moosewood cookbook—spines broken, pages falling out, favorite pages so stained it’s getting hard to read them.
This is a simple dish—lentils, broth, onions, carrots, tomatoes, some seasoning, a surprising dash of sherry at the end and a sprinkling of shredded swiss cheese in the bottom of the serving bowls. I also add garlic because soup needs garlic and this time I added some turkey sausage.
Every time I make it I remember the first time I made it in the small kitchen of the Maynard Road apartment. It was a Sunday afternoon and friends were coming to make music—Pam with her fiddle, Beth with her dulcimer, Wil with guitar and mandolin, and me on guitar and dulcimer and penny whistle. We all sang, some of us managing to pick up harmonies, others holding tight to the melody. We’d pick and sing and then eat and pick and sing some more. We kept to this routine for a year or so and then got together less and less. I’m still friends with these people but we come together in different ways now.
But every time I eat this soup I’m back there, in that living room, snow on the ground outside, the sweet and savory goodness of the soup, its simple ingredients that blend to yield rich flavor, our voices and instruments blending as well.