My kids are always hungry.
Eleven-year-old Ben is going through a growth spurt that has him going back for thirds and fourths of dinner; 7-year-old Eli lies in bed moaning, “I am too-too hungry to sleep,” before dropping off to sleep in the middle of his complaint. It’s funny because they are not ever truly hungry, because at the merest twinge from their stomachs, they can go to the kitchen and help themselves to whatever they need.
They know that real hunger exists, they have volunteered at the food bank and baked loaves of bread for Glide’s soup kitchen, but they are lucky never to have experienced real hunger.
Sadly, that’s not the case for too many children, so today Lisa and I are joining with hundreds of food bloggers in an action organized by Share Our Strength and the filmmakers who made A Place at the Table to call attention to the problem of hunger in our country.
Please, watch the trailer for A Place at the Table:
Then take a moment to send a letter to congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation.
And finally, consider how you would feed your family on the $3-$4 per day allowed by the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) budget.
In the spirit of cooking on a budget, I offer this recipe from Cassoulet, by our contributor Catherine Newman. Lentil soup is maybe not the most beautiful meal, but unlike other bean dishes it can come together quickly and like all bean soups, it’s a wonderfully economical and healthy way to feed a family. Catherine’s recipe offers the additional nice touch of a vinaigrette which makes this soup a bit more special than the average bowl.
by Catherine Newman
from The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage (Roost Books)
Active time: 15 minutes; total time: 1 hour (conventional) or 3-6 hours (slow cooker)
This is a forgiving recipe, with respect to both ingredients and method. If you don’t have broth, use all water. If you’re dying to get this into your crock pot and are already in your work clothes and you simply can’t sauté the veggies first, then dump them all in raw. But make the vinaigrette, because it’s that one detail that raises this from the depths of humdrum to the heights of moderately exciting.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
3/4 cup tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, or tomato puree
2 cups lentils, rinsed and drained (I like to use the tiny green lentils de puy for this, but regular brown lentils are just fine too)
4 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth or more water)
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Slow cooker method:
Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and sauté the veggies with the salt over medium heat until they’re limp and browning–around ten minutes. Add them to your slow cooker with all the remaining ingredients and cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 6. Meanwhile, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Taste the soup for salt, then serve with a drizzle of vinaigrette over each bowl.
Add the lentils to a soup pot with the broth, water, bay leaf, and thyme, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and sauté the veggies with the salt over medium heat until they’re limp and browning–around ten minutes–then add the tomato sauce and vinegar. Scrape this mixture into the cooking lentils, stir, and simmer the soup over very low heat, partially covered, for an hour, stirring every now and again to keep it from sticking, and adding water if it looks like it’s drying out. When the lentils are nice and creamy, taste the soup for salt, then serve with a drizzle of vinaigrette over each bowl.