French lentil and wild rice soup


The other day Isaac wrote some sentences. It was for school. Usually he hates writing sentences, he hems and haws and procrastinates and eventually scrawls out a few lines with little thought for legibility or the rules of spelling. But on this occasion he took his time, he enjoyed himself. He told us what he was writing about, he looked pleased, he looked happy. He read us his favorite sentence a few times, “The children were babbling like mad to hear their voices echoing off the canyon walls.” I love this! I love to see him happy with his words, happy with something he’s created. And I love the sentence itself. Sometimes it seems like we’re all children babbling like mad to hear our voices echoing off the canyon walls. We’re all talking and talking, and posting things all over the place, everything we feel and think and notice, everything that annoys us or makes us feel thankful or blessed. We’re sharing our observations and our pictures of ourselves and everyone we love, in all our moods and various flattering lightings. And we’re waiting to hear the echoes back of people liking everything we’ve posted, noticing everything we say. It’s easy to be cynical about this, but if I think about it long enough, I think this is all good, I love all of this. I love people sharing their moments and marking them as blessed or thankful moments. It’s good to notice, it’s good to feel grateful. It can’t be a new thing–people must have always felt this way, wanting to get their thoughts and feelings out, though it wasn’t so easy to share everything so quickly. And maybe it was all better when you had to take your time and think more carefully about everything you said. Maybe words are more precious when they’re not more easily shared, when you have to work and work at it till you get that wonderful buzz from getting it just right. But then I think about how easily and strangely words come to my boys when they’re not thinking about it at all. They’re not even worried about sharing it, they’re not even concerned about the reaction they get. They’re just saying what they think in all of their unselfconscious oddly perfect glory. Malcolm’s favorite adjective is “dancing,” and he uses it in the most unlikely most wonderful places. It throws you off guard with how much sense it makes. And our Isaac always has the right weird words at the right weird time. He was feeling down the other night after it got dark and we sent him to bed, and he said everything felt “damp and broken.” If you’ve ever felt down, which means if you’re human, you know that he got it exactly right. And Isaac likes to share his philosophies. Here’s one: Nobody can do everything, but everyone can try. And here’s another: It’s not done until you do it. And last night he actually spent a lot of time and effort perfecting this ridiculously beautiful tongue twister: I think I thought a thousand thoughts that no-one else could think. And isn’t that the crux of it all! When you’re having trouble getting the words out, or making something that you need to make, or doing something the you need to do…think about the billions of thoughts you’ve thought that no-one else could think. And then think about how important that makes them. And then, children, babble them like mad, until they echo off the canyon walls.

David said this soup was “perfect” and that made me happy! It’s a meaty vegetarian soup. (Vegan if you leave the butter out.) I put a lot of things in it that you certainly don’t need to add if you don’t have them. Honestly, the rice and lentils will give it favor enough. Miso and tamari give it a deeper, more savory flavor, but if you happen not to have them, no worries! If you have marmite, you could add a teaspoon of the instead or as well. I used the herbs that are still in my garden, and I think there’s a perfect balance if you use rosemary, sage, and lemon thyme. If you don’t have those, though, use what you do have! It’s a very adaptable soup. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Here’s Twilight Echoes by Roy Smeck.


2 T olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 bay leaves

2 t fresh rosemary, minced

3 or 4 fresh sage leaves, minced

1 t lemon thyme, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium-sized potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3 inch dice

splash of white wine

1 cup wild rice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t miso paste (optional)

1 t tamari or soy sauce

1/2 cup french lentils

2 cups baby spinach, washed and chopped

1 T butter

1 t balsamic vinegar

salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper


In a large pot warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and herbs, stir and cook for a minute or two. Add the potatoes, stir and cook for a few minutes till they start the brown. Add the wine, and stir to scrape all the good flavor off the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and rice, stir and cook to coat with oil and spices. Add about four cups of water, enough to cover everything with a couple inches to spare. Stir in the miso and tamari.


Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. After about half an hour, stir in the French lentils and enough water that you’re still clearing the rice and potatoes by an inch or two. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil briefly, and then reduce the heat again and cook for about another half hour, until the lentils and rice are both soft, but still with a bit of texture. The rice will still have a little chewy quality to it.


Stir in the spinach and cook for a minute or two, till it’s wilted. Add the butter, balsamic, salt and pepper, to taste.


You can serve with a little grated sharp cheddar or other cheese you like to sprinkle on top.



2 thoughts on “French lentil and wild rice soup

  1. I am going to make this! Just found your blog through a circuitous route that included a stop on a comment you left on a post somewhere about tapioca flour. I love your writing.

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