That first day of Lent, I felt especially holy denying myself anything pleasurable, all sweet and salty snacks especially. There was no eating between meals, and there was no meat during the week when I was growing up. For Ash Wednesday dinner, my grandmother would make, of course, a huge pot of vegetarian lentil soup. Even though we were not supposed to enjoy food during Lent, her lentil soup was a treat that I still can taste, and mine is never quite as good as I remember hers. That difference doesn't deter me, though. Even as I write, there is a pot of lentil soup simmering on the stove so tomorrow I'll be able to commemorate the first day of Lent and my grandmother.
Vegetarian Lentil Soup
This soup makes an easy if not instant vegetarian dinner. The most labor intensive part is chopping all the vegetables!
3 onions, finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 small potato in 1/2 inch dice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound brown lentils, rinsed and checked for small pebbles
2 bay leafs
10 cups water
salt to taste
Put all ingredients except salt into large soup pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cover, but tilt lid to allow some steam to escape. Cook for 60 to 90 minutes, until lentils are soft. Add salt to taste. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.