Hygge: A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
This first week of wintery weather has seen me getting my “hygge” on. I’ve moved a little closer to the fire and taken out my knitting needles again.
I’m not sure what it is about knitting socks. I made my first pair about three years ago and can’t seem to stop knitting them. (Maybe it’s my practical Virgo nature.) I find it impossible to imagine anyone not loving a pair of warm, wool socks to lounge around the house in when the temperatures outside dip below freezing. That said, I’m not sure anyone outside my family has the same love affair with socks, but that hasn’t stopped me from giving them as gifts. I started this pair in the summer but didn’t make any serious progress on them until last week when winter set in.
This brings me to another staple in our house during the inside months when “hygge” becomes a lifestyle in our home. Lunch is only a ladle away when there is a fresh pot of soup simmering on the stove. I make soups at least once or twice a week during the winter months. Awhile back as I was scanning my shelves for the ingredients for my next soup, I came across the red lentils and for some reason remembered one of my favourite soups that I used to make regularly “way back in the day” but hadn’t made for years. It is one of the recipes from the cult classic Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. It’s not in the small paperback original (pictured here) but in a later edition. Luckily, I had made it so many times that I was able to re-create it from memory, but just recently found it online at Food 52. They seem to think it’s just as good as I do. It is the simplest, most forgiving soup you could possibly make – raised a notch or two by the secret ingredient, a 1/4 cup of sherry added at the end.
Lentils Monastery Style
A richly flavoured lentil soup made from basic kitchen ingredients with sherry added at the end.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 3 cups stock
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 398 ml can of tomatoes
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese
- Heat oil in a large pot and sauté the onions and carrot for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened and onion is translucent. Add dried herbs and sauté 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes. Cook, covered until lentils and carrots are tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Add sherry. Check for seasoning.
- To serve, ladle into bowls and add two tablespoons of cheese on the top of each one.
*This recipe is very, very forgiving. Want more carrots? Onions? No problem. Too thick for your taste, add more stock. I always add a pinch of salt and pepper as I go along. The amount depends to a large extent on taste and the saltiness of the stock you used. Always, always check the seasoning at the end before serving.
I hope this becomes a household favourite for you too. Enjoy!