Lenten Recipe and Reflection: Day 21

Each day during Lent, Ave Maria Press will be posting soup recipes and Lenten reflections from our Lenten prayer books here on the Ave Maria Press website. Follow us on Facebook to receive daily updates with these Lenten inspirations.

Lenten Reflection

From The Lenten Labyrinth:

Friday is a day to abstain from meat and perhaps to fast. This Lenten Friday, however, may be just the day not to abstain. One of the reasons for fasting is to curb voracious appetites, so we can again appreciate the most simple things in life. Yet Lent is also a time to stop and be truly nourished. Fine food can nourish us deeply. While Lent is a time traditionally to give up something we enjoy, it can also be the time to take up—with purity—that which we enjoy most and which nourishes us most deeply.

Tomato Lentil Soup

Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
3 tablespoons carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced “vegetarian” Canadian bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled, ripe plum tomatoes, with their juice
1 cup dried French lentils or regular brown lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Preparation
In a large pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, and sauté until almost caramelized, about 4 minutes.

Add the celery, carrot, and garlic, and sauté over high heat, stirring often, until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes.

Add vegetarian Canadian bacon and tomatoes with their juice (liquid should total 1/3 cup. so add water if necessary), and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour the lentils into a colander and rinse them under the tap. Drain them, and add them to the pot.

Add the broth, salt, and pepper to the pot and let simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Sir occasionally and add additional water if needed.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the Parmesan cheese. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with more Parmesan cheese on the side for garnish. Makes four servings.

Commentary
Every year for the past seven years or so, our parish had held “soup Fridays” during Lent. Each of the parish’s main ministry teams (religious education, parish council, eucharistic ministers, food pantry volunteers) take turns making eight to ten different soups each Friday in Lent. The soups are served in the parish gym immediately following the Stations of the Cross. We get quite a turnout! My wife and I are part of our parish’s RCIA team, and the first Friday in Lent is usually the RCIA team’s slot. We have a really great time kicking the event off. Served with good bread and water, juice, or coffee, soup is a wonderful Lenten simple supper. Often (but not always) we have a mini-retreat after supper to discuss scripture, Lenten themes, or parish history. (This is a great way for candidates and catechumens to meet more folks from the parish).

If your parish does not do a Friday fish fry, I highly recommend Friday soup suppers as a way to craft a prayerful night of Lenten fellowship at your church. It’s healthy, everyone can contribute without being overwhelmed with responsibility, and the parishioners will remember the great soups!

Note: When we make this soup for our parish event, we multiply this recipe by five so as to get 20 servings. It requires a 6 to 8 quart stock pot.

Adapted from a recipe in Babe's Country Cookbook.

Submitted by Patrick McGowan, Ave Maria Press Associate Editor.