Eastside Road, October 7, 2013—LIKE LAST NIGHT'S, tonight's dinner began with a soffrito — diced onion and garlic, colored in olive oil. You don't let them brown, at least I don't: you want them to turn transparent and a little bit golden.
And again like last night's dinner, Cook was working from a published recipe, in one of our favorite cookbooks, written by an old friend: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison. (And what she means by the title is not …for Dummies, but …for even Carnivores like me.)
Beyond the soffrito the book asks for tomato paste, finely diced celery and carrot, bay leaves, chopped parsley, and of course the lentils: we like the quite small French green lentils. Basically you cook the vegetables first, then add the lentils and water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.
Deb's recipe ends with a flourish, stirring in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, another of sherry vinegar, and garnishing the soup, when served, with chopped celery leaves and parsley. It's delicious. A dish of Nancy Skall's impeccable lima beans before; green salad afterward, and a little bit of apple pie, because it was waiting for us in the dish-cupboard…
"Guadagni Red," Preston of Dry Creek, 2012• Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison. New York: Broadway Books, 1997