Chickpea and farro soup with spinach and tomatoes

Chickpea and farro soup with spinach and tomatoes

Chickpea and farro soup with spinach and tomatoes

When I was studying film in college, I would make short, strange films. When it came time to show them to the class, I’d stand in back giggling at all of the jokes in my film, looking forward to the beautiful, carefully planned shots. And everybody else would sit and watch with perplexed looks on their faces. The whole thing would end with awkward silence or confused questions. Yeah. And now…now! I may have mentioned that I’m writing a novel! I’m completely obsessed with it! I’m infatuated with my own novel. I lie awake all night writing it in my head. I read passages from it over and over! I scribble ideas for scenes or whole scenes in my notebook, and hours later I can’t read them, because my handwriting is so atrocious! I have ideas while I’m walking Isaac to school, and I can’t remember them by the time I get home! I love my characters, and I want them to go through all of the things they need to go through, but I’m not sure what those things will turn out to be! I know some of the things though, and I can’t wait to write them down, I can’t wait to get through all of the stuff that has to happen first, although I like all of those scenes, too! I want it all to come out at once in a big rush. But the truth is I write quite slowly, in fits and starts, and agonize over every word. And I have massive doubts that the whole thing won’t make sense to anybody else in the world, and if anybody else reads it it will be greeted by perplexed silence and confused questions. But that’s okay, because right now it feels so good to be working on it. I’m building something. I’m working on something big, I’m working on something good, and I might lie awake all night with people running through my head, but it’s worth it. Right now it feels worth it. So today’s Sunday Interactive playlist is songs about people working on something. Not a job of work for a wage, but something big, something good, something they believe in, even if they seem a little crazy. It could be a building, a song, something mysterious, a career, a love, anything!

And today’s recipe is simple but delicious. It’s soup! Because it’s still cold and snowy here, and starting to seem like it always will be! This soup is hearty with farro and potatoes, but bright with tomato and lemon and rosemary. If you have fresh basil, that’s nice with it. If not a dollop of pesto is nice, or some grated mozzarella.

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Add whatever song you like, or leave a title in the comments and I’ll add it for you through the week.

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French lentil and farro soup with spinach

French lentil farro soup

French lentil farro soup

    “He was standing by the edge of a small pool – no more than ten feet from side to side – in a wood. The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others – a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking up the water with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterward Digory always said, “It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.”

    The strangest thing was that almost before he had looked about him, Digory had half forgotten how he had come there. …If anyone has asked his “Where did you come from?” he would probably have said, “Ive always been here.” That was what it felt like – as if one had always been in that place and never been bored although nothing had ever happened. As he said afterward, “It’s not the sort of place things happen. The trees go on growing, that’s all.”

This, of course, is a passage from The Magician’s Nephew, by CS Lewis. He’s describing “the wood between the worlds,” a strange, lazy, dreamy green-lit place. It’s a place I think about a lot. We used to love The Chronicles of Narnia when we were little, my brother and I. Who wouldn’t like to imagine a magical world you could escape to at any time, where you could (safely) go on adventures and talk to animals? Your dog could finally tell you what she’d been thinking about all this time! We had a world of our own, in which we were talking animals, and the world had a history, a geography, a morality all its own. I’d tell you all about it, but it’s top secret! This world was almost like a religion for us, and it shaped our outlook on life to a remarkable extent. I’ve been looking forward to sharing Narnia with the boys, but I’ve been reading through parts of the books lately, and I feel a little disappointed! I’d forgotten about that whole, “Buck up, old chap, and stop your blubbering or we’ll despise you for the rest of the book” mentality. One of my favorite books was always The Horse and His Boy. I love the idea of stories that take place between the major conflicts. My idea of a good book would be a story of life when Peter was high king in which absolutely nothing happened. No drama, no evildoers to overthrow, just a tale of what day-to-day was like in this happy golden time. Well, I went back and read a bit of Horse and His Boy. It’s the story of light-haired, light-skinned noble well-intentioned people from the north fighting against swarthy-skinned, dark-haired, backwards and mean-spirited people from the South. Ugh! It’s still a good story, but I feel a little queasy when I imagine Malcolm reading it. Maybe I’m crazy. Anyway…I’ve always loved the idea of the wood between the worlds. So many times in my life I’ve felt like I’m there, I’m in this tranquil in-between place, trying to decide which pool to jump in next. Because each pool is a world, and you don’t know what you’ll find there, when you jump in. Here in the green wood, you’re safe, all you have to do is sit still, and your memories are vague and dreamlike, and you can almost feel yourself growing. You don’t have to act, or interact with anyone. But you can’t stay forever. As Polly says, “This place is too quiet. It’s so – so dreamy. You’re almost asleep. If we once give in to it we shall just lie down and drowse for ever and ever.” So you have to exert yourself and pick a pool (or a school, or a job, or a place to live …) You have to wake up and exert yourself and engage with your life, and let the wood between the worlds become your dream. Since the boys were born, I feel like I’m having an extended stay in the wood between the worlds. I can feel the boys growing, at the incessant imperceptible rate that people grow, but how it all happened, how they got to be the boys they are now, on their way to being the boys they will someday be, is a jumble of memories and expectations and anxieties, all swathed in a glowing green light – a hopeful light, a healthy growing light. Sometimes I rouse myself from my pleasant drowse and I think about jumping into one of the pools – I apply for a job, I contact people about shooting a film – but I never seem to do much more than get my ankles wet in the wrong pool before I’m lying on the soft green grass again, wondering how I got there, listening to the boys grow, watching them get ready to choose which pool to jump into. Some day, in the glowing green future. There’s no hurry, it’s very nice here.

Well, I’ve mentioned that we’re all feeling a bit under the weather, here at The Ordinary. So I wanted to make a rich, comforting soup that would have a bit of spiciness to cut through the lurgy. So I made this soup, with french lentils and farro, for sustenance, spinach for all-around wonderfulness, and cayenne, ginger, and lemon, for salubriousness. It was very good! We floated green toast in it, made from the colcannon bread, which was lovely. This is a very hearty, meal-in-itself soup, but it wasn’t heavy at all – it had a nice warm smoky broth, and the ginger and lemon helped to brighten it.

Here’s This is Your World by Sam and Dave. What a good song!

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