For years I’ve assumed that there was an etymological connection between “lentil” and Lent.” You have no idea how disappointed I am to have discovered recently that it is nonexistent. It seemed so perfectly and seasonally appropriate. Sigh. Well, more on that later. In the meantime, here is my favorite recipe for “Lent”-il soup, from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, modified somewhat by me:
Pick over & rinse 3 cups raw lentils. Simmer them in 7 cups water or stock (I use veggie bouillon), on the stovetop or in a crock pot, until lentils are almost tender.
Saute in olive oil 2 tsp. fresh minced garlic, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup minced celery, and 1 cup chopped carrots, until almost tender. Add to almost-tender lentils along with 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or, lacking those, fire-roasted canned tomatoes; 2 T dry red wine; 2 T lemon juice; 1-1/2 T molasses or brown sugar; 1 T wine vinegar; 1 T capers. Simmer for a while longer until lentils and veggies are tender. Add black pepper and salt to taste.
This is even better the next day, after flavors have blended.