Mom’s Lentil Soup!
By Dennis Linden
Here’s a delicious lentil soup recipe guaranteed to take the edge off January’s chilly temps. It takes very little time to prepare even though its flavor has an all-day simmer richness to it! Submitted by Thania Anaya in Melissa’s Sales Department, the soup is a dish she remembers looking forward to as a child. She attempted to replicate it unsuccessfully until she ended up asking her mother for her secrets.
“I always wondered why the lentil soup I enjoyed during childhood was different whenever I tried to make it as an adult in my own kitchen. It was so heartwarming to get home from school on a rainy afternoon knowing that my mother’s special soup would be waiting,” recalled Thania. “Finally, about three years ago, on a rainy day, of course, I called my mom to find out what the secret was to her soup that I was missing. That’s when I learned about the egg dropping and chicken seasoning ingredients. So now I look forward to those occasional Southern California rainy, cold days and preparing my favorite soup the ‘right’ way (thanks mom!). Though I have to admit, even though I now have all the ingredients, her soup is still a little better – a mother’s touch, I guess!”
With Thania’s recipe, making a soup from scratch on a weeknight becomes feasible. Just two vegetables--onions and tomatoes--need to be rough chopped, and one pepper of choice requires slicing into thin strands. That’s pretty much it! Measure out the liquids, combine everything in a pot, and bring to a boil.
A few tips that should be passed on:
If you have ever made egg flower soup, it’s the same concept for this recipe. Break the eggs into the boiling-hot soup and immediately whisk them into the mixture. If you hesitate for any length of time–like to snap a few prep pictures for this feature, for instance [!]–the eggs will cook whole.
I chose a Jalapeño pepper mostly because of the quality found at my local grocers compared to the Serrano peppers on display. In hindsight, and for my next batch of this tasty soup, a couple of serrano chilies would have given the soup a spicier kick to suit my taste. On the other hand, the Jalapeño is a more flavorful pepper than a Serrano, so this is definitely a matter of personal preference.
Thania Anaya is one of the newest members of the Melissa’s team, having celebrated her first full year with the company just last month. New to the produce industry, she started in the Sales Department working with national accounts in a support capacity. She has been learning the business through the company’s sales system--sending out market updates, price lists, calling on customers for orders, and checking orders for accuracy. Lately, she has been learning how the company’s Food Service division operates.
“The most interesting part of working at Melissa’s is the diversity and multiple steps that are involved for the process to function. I did not realize all the small factors involved in the handling and distribution of perishables, from the seed the farmer uses to plant the produce to the consumer who is buying it at the store level,” admitted Thania. “For it all to go smoothly, there must be constant communication between the customer and our team here at Melissa’s. Inter-company communication is critical so that everyone--procurement, pack line, and the warehouse--is aware of the special needs of each order. Without this detailed information, the system would not be possible. I have certainly learned to appreciate the food on my own dinner table and how it all got there since working for Melissa’s!”
When her day job is finished, Thania’s agriculture education, so to speak, continues… once she has made the 90-minute commute home to a half-acre farm where she and husband Jose raise chickens, goats, two dogs, and also tend to a diverse garden. The long drive from her desk in the industrial section of downtown Los Angeles to her home in the country--from concrete and smog to farm chores and fresh air--is worth it.
“Fun is going home to the enjoyment of developing our little farm. We purchased the property about a year ago. Our hands are always full, though I would not trade it for anything!” Thania exclaimed. “I usually hit the garden for an hour or so as soon as I get home each day; it’s a great way to shake off the commute and get some weeding done at the same time! While the commute is a long one, the country lifestyle is definitely worth it. I have to say the best part for me is being able to get fresh eggs from our hens every morning; but if you asked Jose, it’s his fresh goat milk. Life is good!”
And so is her soup! Thank you, Thania!
Mom’s Lentil Soup
2 TBS Oil
2 Yellow Onions, chopped
2 Red Tomatoes, firm ripe, chopped
1 Fresh Chile pepper, either a Jalapeno or Serrano, sliced lengthwise into thin strands
2 pkgs. Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
4 cups Water
2 Chicken bouillon cubes [Knorr brand]
Heat oil in a large soup pot, then sauté onions, tomatoes, and pepper.
Add the steamed lentils right out of the package and sauté until heated through, then add water and bouillon cubes. Bring to boil.
Once boiling, crack open the eggs and stir them into the mixture. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the eggs to cook and the ingredient flavors to meld. Soup is ready!