by Caroline

I was locked in a terrible head cold all last week, leaving the house only when I had to, mostly lying in bed drinking gallons of tea. I didn’t have the energy to cook, so I was so happy when I remembered one smart thing I had done with the CSA produce last year: steal a friend’s idea to make mirepoix and stick it in the freezer.

Now a proper mirepoix (also known as refogado in Portuguese, soffritto in Italian, or sofrito in Spanish) is an evenly-diced combination of onion, celery and carrots. But my knife skills are not all that, and I knew no one was going to be examining my dice. I did the chopping in the food processor, and then scooped half-cup portions of each vegetable into quart-sized freezer bags. I have been using them to start soups all winter long. This is my last one, a little fuzzy with ice but still perfectly good and tasty:

It only took about 30 minutes, and minimal effort from me, to go from that to this:

Lentil soup with a poached egg on top, for extra comfort.

Soup recipes are so flexible and such a matter of personal taste, I hardly want to give a recipe, but here’s a general road map for a meatless version:

Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of your soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add:

1/2 cup each diced onion, celery and carrot
or, 1 small onion, 2 stalks of celery and 2 carrots, diced
1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic

Saute until the vegetables are tender and just starting to color. Deglaze the pot with a splash of wine (red or white, whichever you prefer). If you happen to have some tomato paste, a couple tablespoons are a nice addition here. Now add

1 c lentils, rinsed and picked over
4 c water or vegetable stock

Bring to a simmer and then simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.