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Humbling and Unglamorous

I’ve spent three weeks baking in my commercial kitchen for Marge. I’m still running around doing what feels like hundreds of errands each week, but things are starting to become a bit more streamlined. I’ve done two farmer’s markets and a few great local events. I’m meeting lots of new folks who live nearby, making friends with other vendors, and oftentimes selling out before the market even ends.  For me Saturday mornings are like a big ol’ bake sale and I couldn’t imagine anything else I’d rather be doing. Friday nights, however, are a much different story.

The night before the farmer’s market always brings about many hours of baking, packaging, usually burning myself  once or twice, occasionally getting aluminum foil caught in the convection oven (lesson learned: no aluminum foil in the convection oven!), witnessing occasional drug deals out back, listening to old classic rock on the radio,  talking to myself, pacing. And more pacing. For the past few weeks, there’s been very little sleep, lots of anxiety, and questioning if this is really how I want to spend every Friday night into eternity.

When you come to an event or a farmer’s market booth, it all  looks so lovely. I have a sweet blue tablecloth, antique fixtures, lots of pies all wrapped in baker’s twine ready to take home. I have postcards and samples and genuinely want to talk to you about vintage recipes. But the behind the scenes is a little more gritty — there’s strewn flour everywhere, ovens that don’t always work, a broken freezer, another freezer that’s filled with pot (I’ve somehow ended up in the kitchen with all the pot bakers), ingredient emergencies (out of cinnamon at midnight? How can that be?!). It’s humbling. It’s challenging. It’s completely unglamorous. And it’s where I find myself.

And so it makes sense that, coupled with all the baking I’ve been doing in the kitchen, the last thing I want to do is spend time on elaborate (or, really, any) meals. So this week, I’ve fallen for lentil soup. And fittingly, too, seeing that it may be one of the more humble, basic, and unglamorous meals you will come across. Throw some onions and carrots together along with lentils, water, and your choice of spices and an hour or so later you’ve got lunch. Or dinner. Or a snack at 2:00 a.m. It doesn’t make any bold or flashy statements. It doesn’t promise greatness or wealth or prosperity. It just gets the job done in a simple and satisfying way. Kind of like my Friday nights as of late.

I hope your week is going well. Sit back and take a moment for yourself. Make some soup. Do something humbling and slightly unglamorous. It builds character, no?

And a moment of minor self promotion: if you haven’t seen the Marge website yet, it’s finished! And it might be one of my favorite websites ever. Go take a peek. Sign up for our newsletter under the “Contact” page and follow us on twitter and facebook if you’re not already.

Curried Lentil Soup
Slightly Adapted from: Bon Appetit via Molly Wizenburg
French green lentils are really your best bet for this soup. They’re smaller and darker than your standard run-or-the mill lentil and they hold their shape really nicely so you don’t end up with a mushy pot of what was once lentils.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup french lentils
4 1/2 cups water, divided (or more)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
salt and pepper, for seasoning

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook about five minutes until onion is translucent. Add half of the chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer.

Add curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor. Add chickpea puree and butter to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.
Soup can be made up to one day ahead.

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