Parsnip, apple, carrot and red lentil soup

Parsnip apple carrot soup

Parsnip apple carrot soup

I’m still feeling a little dazed, dizzy and down from being sick the other day. (Or maybe just from being Claire, but we’ll blame it on the sickness.) Last week I was thinking a lot about discouragement and ambition and the connection between the two – being afraid to try, being cabined, cribbed, confined by saucy doubts and fears. I was thinking about failure and success, about why someone tries, and how they determine whether or not they’re successful. And then I got sick and felt completely empty – like the black holes that Isaac likes to talk about. And then I came back to life and the world seems, honestly, a little overwhelming. Too much information, too much useless chatter, so much strange bad news. I feel very earnestly and passionately confused, which is actually a good feeling, like recovering your appetite, it feels good to care, good to think, good to be in a muddle. And it’s a good excuse for the nonsensical ramble pouring forth before you. I want to clear my head of all the clutter and distraction, I want to fill it with good things, I want to create a … well, a sort of a sourdough starter of thoughts in my head, a little culture of thoughts, and feed the starter with fascinating thoughts that other people have thunk, and let those ferment until they make sense to me, and watch it grow and become wild and full and, ultimately, nourishing, in conjunction with other ingredients that I might pick from anywhere! I want to take this nagging empty, insignificant feeling and fill it up with some sort of light. I spent some time this morning reading Emerson’s essay on self-reliance, and so much of it resonated that I’ll tell you all about it. That’s right, I’m going to quote an essay that’s all about the importance of not quoting other people, of thinking for yourself and forming your own ideas. Emerson says, “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within,” and I love the idea of this, as it speaks to me in my current mood – the idea that we should learn to ignore the judgments and values of others, their chatter about what is important and what is wise, and even what is good, to listen to the spark of light within ourselves, and to give life and value to that. “If they are honest and do well, presently their neat new pinfold will be too strait and low, will crack, will lean, will rot and vanish, and the immortal light, all young and joyful, million-orbed, million-colored, will beam over the universe as on the first morning.” You won’t worry about your abilities, or compare them to those of others, if you’re focussed honestly on the light within yourself – your own spirit, your own soul. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” When David came home for lunch today, he said his idea of a good vacation would be to be Isaac and Malcolm for a while – to look forward to everything and feel good about your place in the world and about what you think and what you make and what you enjoy. As Emerson said, “The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict.” I think its harder than he makes it sound, looking out from your corner and watching people and facts pass by, it’s a lot of work, but they have fun doing it, in their swift and summer-y way. Well, that’s it for now, folks, but you haven’t heard the last of this foolish train of thought! Be forewarned!

To quote Emerson one last time…”A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Of course, Emerson was speaking of the foolish consistency of starting each and every meal with olive oil, shallots and garlic. Last night I made this soup, and I didn’t want it to taste like every other soup I have ever made, so I decided to leave our shallots and garlic altogether! Shocking, I know! I had some very great fears that it wouldn’t be flavorful. But it was extremely deliciously flavorful, and bright and comforting. Lovely and balanced and creamy. I used a larger ratio of carrots to parsnips and apples, but you could easily adjust that to your taste and to the contents of your larder, if you have such a thing!

Here’s Bob Marley with Wake up and Live. If ever a man ignored the wolf pack and let his own light shine, it was this man. Happy birthday, Bob!

    Life is one big road with lots of signs, yes!
    So when you riding through the ruts, don’t you complicate your mind:
    Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy!
    Don’t bury your thoughts; put your dream to reality, yeah!


2 T olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced (7 or 8 medium-sized)
1 cup parsnips, peeled and diced (1 large)
1 cup apples, peeled and diced (2 medium)
1/2 cup red lentils
1 t powdered ginger
1 t cardamom
1 t coriander
1 t salt
3 or 4 cups of water
1 T butter
juice of one lemon
lots of freshly ground pepper

In a medium-sized soup pot over medium heat warm the olive oil and the bay leaves. Add all of the fruit and veg, stir and cook for a few minutes till it begins to soften. Add the red lentils. Stir to combine everything.

Add the spices, stir and then immediately add the water – you want enough to cover by about 1/2 an inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add the salt and simmer until everything is very soft – 40 – 45 minutes.

Add the butter and lemon, and puree carefully in batches till the soup is perfectly smooth. Return to heat, add a bit of water if it’s too thick, taste for salt and pepper, and serve!

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2 thoughts on “Parsnip, apple, carrot and red lentil soup

  1. no onions? In a soup? I am glad you are here to experiment on our behalf, I don’t think I’d ever try that without something from the onion family. I once knew a girl who always had takeaway Indian food with no onion or garlic, I wondered how that might work. Did the other flavours come through more brightly?

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, your philosophising is always thought provoking.

    • I was anxious about having no oniony or garlicky flavor, but it worked out okay. I can’t imagine Indian takeaway without either, though! It must have been tough to find something to order on the menu! And yes, I think the flavors did come through more brightly, because it was plenty flavorful, despite my anxieties.

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