The sweetest people I ever nannied for was an Arabic family in Chicago. Lucy, the mom, made the most amazing home cooked meals. They were always from scratch, well balanced, and full of flavor. She always made enough for me to sit down and eat dinner with her son. I’ll never forget how welcomed she always made me feel in their home.
One of my favorite dishes she made was a creamy lentil soup with potatoes and carrots. You top it with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of good quality yogurt. If you’re a hot head like me, you’ll add a drizzle of Sriracha as well.
Lucy’s family was so awesome. They ate a salad at the end of every meal. Even on the coldest of days! And she would make this really flavorful dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, spices, and fresh garlic. My mouth waters just thinking about that dressing!
Boy, I miss her cooking! And our talks. We’d talk about everything from food, to child rearing, to traveling. I never felt like an employee in their home. Just a friend taking care of her little one while she was away.
Motivated by nostalgia, I did my best to replicate her soup & salad for lunch today. I love how food can trigger the fondest of memories and transport you to another place and time. Much like music does!
What food memories do you have?
LUCY’S LENTIL SOUP:
*serves 2 adults & 1 baby with left overs*
2T olive oil
1/2 lg onion, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lg carrot, sliced thick
1 lg russet potato, peeled & cut into a large dice
1-2t dried cumin (to your taste)
2 handfuls of masoor dal (Indian red lentils)
6-8 cups of chicken bone broth (or vegetable stock)
Salt to taste
Squeeze of lemon (garnish)
Dollop of Nancy’s plain yogurt (garnish)
1.) Saute onions and garlic in olive oil.
2.) Add veg and cumin and stir for 30-60 seconds until you can smell the cumin.
3.) Add two handfuls of dal, bone broth, and salt to taste.
4.) Bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer.
5.) Cook until veggies are tender and the dal is thick and creamy (about 20 minutes). (If the dal soaks up all of the liquid, just add more bone broth as needed. It should be the consistency of porridge.)
6.) Garnish with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of yogurt. If you like your food spicy, add Sambal or Sriracha as well.
NOTE: The soup looks like it gets put through a blender, but it doesn’t. These lentils are split in half so they break down nicely and create a creamy texture without having to puree or use any dairy at all.
Rue loves this soup! The potatoes and carrots are super easy for her to eat with her hands because they’re big enough to pick up, but easy to chew. And the lentils have a nice pureed texture to them, so they’re very baby friendly. I don’t put lemon on hers. Just yogurt.
LUCY’S SALAD DRESSING:
*serves two adults*
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of turmeric (or curry powder)
dash of paprika
smidge of cayenne pepper (optional)
salt to taste
1 cube of frozen lemon juice, melted at room temp
1-2T good quality extra virgin olive oil
1.) Put spices, salt, and garlic in a medium bowl.
2.) Add lemon juice and mix.
3.) Drizzle in olive oil while whisking until emulsified.
4.) Dress your salad with this dressing right before you serve it, and enjoy!
NOTE: There’s no real binder in this vinaigrette, so the oil and lemon juice will separate as it sits. Whisk once more before you dress the salad. I don’t recommend you make a big batch of this and keep it in the fridge because the garlic will lose it’s flavor and that’s what really makes this dressing super delicious. It will last a couple days in the fridge if you have leftovers or need to make it in advance. If you don’t like the taste of raw garlic, you won’t like this dressing.
I hope you try this super easy, baby friendly, healthy, & delicious meal at home!
***Names of the people in this blog entry have been changed to protect privacy***