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My Guilt Fairy Gets Out Her Wand

The problem with sending wedding invitations to Scott is that he also gets science magazines–a lot of them.  So it’s not unusual for invitations to be opened, happily noted on the calendar, and then returned to the science-riddled mail pile that disappears into Scott’s office.


At some point, I need to see the address for the couple’s website so I can get them a present.  As the wedding date nears, I turn the office upside down.  I find the invitation stuck in an article called Visualizing Long-Term Memory Formation in Two Neurons of the Drosophila Brain, and I want to do two things.  First, I want to fall into a deep, boredom-induced asleep.  Then I want shake my fists at the ceiling because someone else cleaned the registry of Tupperware and the only things left are crystal chandeliers and ponies.

This time around, a knife is still available.  I feel a wee bit uncomfortable giving people knives.  What if she hurts herself chopping carrots?  What if it falls off the counter and pierces his nicest shoes?  If this happens someday, my Guilt Fairy–the little despot who rules my brain in a cape and heels– will be all “Look what you did, Katherine! You should have gotten them the leather ottoman!!”

So maybe I’ll just get them a llama and a subscription to Science magazine.  Science magazine is like a lifetime supply of sleeping aids, which they’re going to need because no one’s bought the sheets, the pillows, or the comforter yet.

[My Guilt Fairy adjusts her tiara and gets out her wand. . .]

UPDATE: my Pottery Barn on-line shopping cart has an entire bedroom set in it.


I give up.


You know what else is easy to give up on?


Lentils are kind of weird, right?  I always thought they were dry and dull.  Then I started reading Science magazine and that bumped my opinion of lentils up a few notches.  I’ve given them another try.

And I’ve decided that lentils rock, at least in soup.  I’ve been making this one for a couple of years because it’s so easy.  The ingredients are simple (e.g., onions, carrots, broth) but the kicker is a drizzle of balsamic vinegar at the end.  It makes the flavors pop marvelously.

Here it is:

Peasant Lentil Soup {Download & Print Recipe}

Adapted (just a teeny bit) from this recipe in the December 2006 volume of Bon Appétit.


2 tbsp. olive oil

2 c. chopped onions

1 c. chopped celery, plus chopped celery leaves for garnish

1 c. chopped carrots (can substitute 1 seeded, chopped red pepper)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3-4 c. chicken or vegetable broth

1 c. lentils, rinsed and drained

1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice (I’ve used fire-roasted diced tomatoes and I’ve also substituted a 19-oz. can of Muir tomato soup)

1 1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar


Heat the olive oil in a heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat.  When the olive oil is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Sauté, uncovered, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.  Add 3 cups of the broth, the lentils, and the can of tomatoes, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth.  Return purée to the soup in the pan and stir.  Thin soup with more broth if desired.  Add the balsamic vinegar and taste.  Season with salt and pepper if it needs it.  Serve in bowls, garnished with chopped celery leaves.


Serves at least 4.


This soup is great the next day.   I like to add a little more balsamic at that point to freshen up the punchiness.


Whenever possible, Thunder plays with sticks and a ball at the same time.

Or at least she thinks she’s playing with them.  It’s more like she hoards them.

This is her “WHAT” face–the one she gives me when I’m interrupting her.

. . .from whatever this is.

59 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amy #

    I just discovered how easy lentils are to make (I always thought they had to cook for hours!) and cooked up a tasty lentil dish on my blog this week too 🙂 Oh, and I would buy the entire contents of Pottery Barn if I could…I seriously love that store.

    March 2, 2012
    • Hi, Amy! Your lentils have balsamic too! (I guess I am just getting on the train on this one.) It makes me wonder if I should start drizzling balsamic (or some other vinegar) into more of my dishes. First of all, I love balsamic vinegar. But also because it would probably bring out a lot of flavors. I’ve put balsamic on hummus before, so if I ever made a chickpea dish, I’d think about that. . . It’s good to keep in mind that an acid can really bring out the flavors of a dish.

      I have to say, your lentil dish kind of kick’s my soup’s butt. I’m glad to see that feta is the suggested cheese–Scott asked me what cheese he could put in his and wound up with a dollop of sour cream. Next time we’ll use feta.

      March 2, 2012
      • Amy #

        Balsamic makes everything better…unless you don’t like balsamic…

        March 2, 2012
  2. mallory #

    Being married to a Greek, you end up with a lot of vinegar in your life. Also, lemons. Good Lord, those people put lemon on EVERYTHING (and it clearly is genetic, as my daughter — 6 years old — has been known to ask for a side of lemon from the school lunch lady, to brighten up her pizza sticks, I suppose?). To his credit, though, I concur that vinegar can be the perfect ingredient for many dishes. Lentil soup being one of them. I use this recipe ( as my go-to, but it uses boring old red wine rather than balsamic…think I’m going to try balsamic next time!

    While you’re at it with the lentils, if you can perfect and pass along a dal makhani recipe, I will forever be your best friend. We are MAD for dal makhani in this house, but you really have to have, like, 397 different kinds of Indian spices to make it, and that isn’t working for me. And call me lazy, but driving all the way to ATL seems too much effort (not a bit of dal in Charleston or Savannah, I KNOW I’M SO SURPRISED MYSELF). Alas.

    March 2, 2012
    • YUM– I could go for some dal makhani right now. I’ve never made it though. I think you might have to wait for your daughter to grow up, start a cooking blog (because, um, she seems to be on track to do just that), and come up with the perfect recipe.

      Did you see this recipe that Amelia made over at Bon Appetempt? Not that it’s the same thing as dal makhani, but if you like stewy beans and such, this might go over well in your house.

      It’s gorgeous, no?

      March 25, 2012
  3. Lovely pictures, again! 🙂 I have to try the recipe!

    March 2, 2012
    • Thanks Alexandra! If you try it, I hope it turns out great.

      March 25, 2012
  4. a #

    You know, cash is almost always a welcome wedding gift. 😉 (I know many areas don’t believe in that sort of crassness, but the rule in our family is registry for the shower, cash for the wedding)

    March 2, 2012
    • That is an awesome rule. I’m totally down for that.

      March 25, 2012
  5. sarah #

    How did you train Thunder to raise only one eyebrow?

    I put a little balsamic on some grilled cabbage last night. Loved it.

    I have never tried anything lentilish, this might be my first.

    March 2, 2012
    • sarah #

      With regard to the weddings, is it bad that I give gift cards or cash? Especially if it is a wedding on my hubs “side”.

      March 2, 2012
      • Sarah, I know, right? I didn’t do a thing. Thunder furrows her brows like nobody’s business. And cocks her head to one side. One of these days, she’s just going to start talking.

        That’s good to know about the cabbage. I made egg rolls the other night and now I have a lot of cabbage left over. I’ll throw some balsamic on it– thanks!

        If I were the bride and groom, I’d LOVE cash or a gift certificate, and I’d think you were awesome for doing that!

        March 25, 2012
  6. Aimee #

    How did you know I need a recipe for Lentil Soup? I mean, you don’t even know me! 🙂
    Thanks, we’ll try it this weekend!

    (PS. I know Scott from our first year @UVA, and I enjoy reading your blog when he posts it! Very Funny!)

    March 2, 2012
    • Aimee, thanks for reading! That’s awesome that you know Scott. I am glad lentil soup was just the right thing to post– if there’s ever anything else you need a good recipe for, let me know and I’ll dig around for one. I’m always wondering what kind of recipes people would be into.


      March 25, 2012
  7. Oh, I’m so glad you converted from your lentil-hating ways! Lentils have been one of my favorite things since I was a kid! Recently, I was introduced to French lentils. My word! It’s a whole new lentil, baby! Also, what Thunder is doing is called “Unmitigated Cuteness.” I looked it up in the dictionary.

    March 2, 2012
    • Really? I think I’ve had french lentils before, but I’m not sure– so you like them a lot more? What’s the difference? Now I’m curious. Do you have any good recipes for them?

      March 25, 2012
  8. LOVE this recipe too (have adjusted a ‘teeny’ bit by adding in some fennel if I have a random bulb lying around…this happens often…not sure why…

    btw -I’m a kraut-american, and we’ve been adding vinegar to hearty soups forever. Not sure it’s a german thing, but what the hell…blame them!

    March 2, 2012
    • That’s awesome that you are a fan of this recipe too. I ADORE fennel and I had to force myself to stop putting it in every recipe I posted, because I realized I was posting about fennel all the time, and maybe some people don’t like it.

      What a shame, because man oh man, fennel is delicious.

      Have you ever added cider vinegar to a soup? I keep wanting to try that.

      March 25, 2012
      • I haven’t yet, but bet it would be swell, especially with something with apple, cabbage and/or parsnips in there. 🙂

        March 26, 2012
  9. Laurie #

    HEY!! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up on the Science mags…one person’s sleep aid is another person’s Hunger Games!

    Am loving the idea of balsamic with the soup. I am taking a big batch of soup to a group on Monday and plan to try this. I also toss in lemon juice after cooking.

    March 2, 2012
    • Ha! I should have know we’d be in disagreement on this one. 🙂

      I love adding lemon juice to soups. Good call.

      March 25, 2012
  10. Your pup is so darling:) Thanks for sharing and Have a Great Weekend!

    March 2, 2012
    • Thank you so much! You too (I know I’m late in responding, so maybe I should say have a great weekend NEXT weekend. 🙂

      March 25, 2012
  11. How can you feel guilty over lentils. Good food! Thanks for posting.

    March 2, 2012
    • Vinny Grette– what a priceless name. If I had kids, I’d read your blog with them all the time– what an awesome idea.

      March 25, 2012
  12. I made this lentil-sweet potato ragout last weekend (, with red lentils, so the whole thing is all yellowy-orangey with bits of spinach. It’s SO good. Last night I had it over cheese ravioli.

    “Euw, you and your vegetables,” my husband said.
    “STAY AWAY THEY’RE MINE,” I replied.

    March 2, 2012
    • That ragout looks so, so good. Wow. Thank you for posting.

      Geez. I’m going back to look at it again.

      March 25, 2012
  13. Your dog is the best! Lentils are yummy and you crack me up!

    March 2, 2012
    • Why thank you! I’m so glad that I think lentils are yummy now. So many good years wasted. 🙂

      March 25, 2012
  14. Just found your blog today, and the pics of your dog are precious! Thanks, too, for the lentil recipe. I love them!

    March 2, 2012
    • Anne, I am just seeing this for some reason– so thank you! I’m so happy you found the blog. And lentils are little wonders, I agree.

      March 25, 2012
  15. Emma Semple #

    I would love a dog like Thunder! She is the cutest thing.

    March 2, 2012
    • Emma, I can’t get over how cute she is. Even as she grows up she still stays puppy-cute. She’s a mix between a french and english bulldog. Someday I hope you have one–someday!

      March 25, 2012
  16. LOL!!! I love your writing! Made me smile all the way through. I’m not much of a “foodie” person.. but this is defiantly worth the read. Thanks… really – it made me LOL!

    March 2, 2012
    • Why thank you WillowWhispers! I’m so glad you like it because it’s so much fun for me to work on. Cheers!

      March 25, 2012
  17. My God, Thunder is hilarious (though I’m sure she takes herself *very* seriously). She looks a little like the demon dogs from “Ghostbusters”, don’t ya think? Especially in the “hoarding” picture.

    March 2, 2012
    • Sandy Sue– totally. She reminds me of a gremlin all the time! Especially when she’s in that pose and her ears go straight up.

      March 25, 2012
  18. Thanks for sharing! I really enjoy reading your posts.

    March 2, 2012
    • Alma, that’s so kind of you to say. Thank you, truly!

      March 25, 2012
  19. Joan #

    That soup looks delicious! And if you can’t find my wedding registry, a puppy like Thunder will do just fine. In fact, just tell Scott that it is EXACTLY what I want. Or a recipe book with all your recipes, complete with pictures of Thunder. Yes, that would do perfectly.

    March 3, 2012
    • Well, Thunder is available to carry the rings down the aisle in a little back pack, if you want.

      Just throwing that out there.

      March 25, 2012
  20. Pink Ninjabi #

    Woooo! That’s amazing, I like just had lentil soup the other day, and I will TOTALLY let my colleague know about balsamic vinegar as a kick. Love your inclusion of self-adapted recipes!

    Thank you for sharing. 😀

    March 3, 2012
    • Hello there, I’m so glad you read it–thanks, and cheers to you!

      March 25, 2012
  21. intuitiveone #

    Great photos! and your puppy is sooo cute.

    March 3, 2012
    • I mean, she kills me with the cuteness sometimes. Especially when she falls asleep curled in my lap and lets out little snores. She’s freaking adorable.

      March 25, 2012
  22. Lentils yes!…. balsamic yes!…. I also like lentil soup with a little sausage. But I just love meat. And as good as lentil soup tastes it doesn’t always present so well… you made it look really good here.
    I think a llama is a great gift. We did chickens one year for all our stocking stuffers.
    And that wood heated cabin included a charming outhouse. That was a four year stint about fifteen years ago. My living off the land phase. Great times, but now prefer indoor plumbing 🙂

    March 3, 2012
    • Wow– your living off the land phase sounds intense (and awesome.) I *think* I’d like to do something like that, but I have my doubts, too.

      I made my first sausage and white bean soup recently, and I agree that the two (and I’m sure lentils) go really well together.

      Photographing soup can be a chore because of the glare, don’t you think?

      Finally, I love the looks of those ricotta pancakes you’ve got on your site. My mom makes cottage cheese pancakes (the cottage cheese goes in the blender, so it’s all whipped up) that are to die for. I bet ricotta ones are similar. I adore ricotta on pasta and pizza–actually, on just about anything.

      March 25, 2012
  23. I had no idea you could put ponies on a wedding registry! That settles it, I’m definitely getting married one day.

    March 4, 2012
    • Since Costco/Target/Wal-Mart are essentially taking over everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple years you could put a pony on your registry at one of those places. Something to keep in mind, right?

      March 25, 2012
  24. Love the lentils. And Thunder pics. And the Pottery Barn shopping cart. It happens.


    March 4, 2012
    • Ponies!

      “Ponies!” is just so fun to say, isn’t it? Or to yell: PONIES!!!!!

      March 25, 2012
  25. No one has given 2.0 and I anything for not getting married. This is the problem with breaking from society’s norms and conventions. Living in sin? No registry for that. How’s a gal supposed to get a donkey? Or a new stove? Cripes.

    Also, your pictures are getting more and more awesome. Just sayin’.

    March 5, 2012
  26. i’ve been looking for a good lentil recipe, can’t wait to give this one a try!

    March 5, 2012
    • Good good– I hope you love it!

      March 25, 2012
  27. I’m not nutty about lentils (despite their historical significance; Esau traded his birthright for them, after all), but Thunder is the cutest.

    March 5, 2012
    • Thanks on Thunder and also on making me look up the Esau reference– I learned something!

      March 25, 2012
  28. Coco – loves to hoard toys too – she also puts her treat right between her paws and guards it – daring the other dogs to try and take it from her since they inhaled theirs in less than a second

    March 6, 2012
    • Shelley, Thunder loves tug of war more than anything else in the world. If I’m squatting down when I throw her the ball, she’ll bring it back and come right up to my face, hoping I’ll grab it in my mouth, rather than putting it in my hand. It’s hilarious. Give Coco a pat for me!

      March 6, 2012
      • tug of war is a good game Gizmo just hands on so tight you can lift her off the ground – Tenacious G

        March 8, 2012

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