Bother Bother [Red Lentil “Peasant” Soup with Sizzling Mint Butter]

Something has been bothering me lately (and no, I don’t mean the 40C-ish weather here in Ottawa).

It’s been happening daily since we got Arthur — weirdos using the dog as a way to start conversations with me.

More and more frequently, I feel forced to interact with people, mostly men, who make me uncomfortable.

I enjoy talking with people from all walks of life — hearing stories and ideas that will broaden my perspective.

Having a dog has helped me to meet my neighbours and other lovely people in my community.

But I don’t appreciate men using coming up and petting the dog as an opportunity to bring me flowers, profess love, ask for my number, ask for my name, ask for my address, say they’ve been watching me in the park, or generally harass me.

Not to be forgotten are coarse comments, mostly from drunk people.

“Put that dog in my bag. I want to steal it.”

“How much did that dog cost? I want to steal it.”

“I want to skin that dog and make mittens out of him.”

Seriously, people.

I’ve always struggled with managing who is entitled to my time. Need something done? Ask me. I’ll agree to do it.

But I have learned a few things about dog walking that I would like to share.

1.You don’t have to let everyone pet your dog. The dog isn’t sad that it isn’t getting pet by everyone.

2. Go around weird people who call the dog over. Pretend you don’t hear them.

3. Don’t avoid places your dog likes to go, such as parks, just because you’ve met weirdos there.

4.When you do have to interact with people who make you uncomfortable, keep it short. I like to use the excuse “Arthur needs to go to the bathroom now!”

Now on to the soup, which is fantastic. I’ve been getting really into Middle Eastern cuisine lately. The flavours are fabulous — very delicate.

This soup includes an ingredient new to me called kishke. It’s a dried yogurt and fine bulgur powder. It’s traditionally used for thickening soups, but I bet it would work great to add flavour and sticking power to meat marinades.

Off-white in colour, it tastes slightly sour — a bit like goat’s cheese. This works great with the hot and fresh mint and paprika in the soup.

Red Lentil “Peasant” Soup with Sizzling Mint Butter
*from Turquoise, by Greg and Lucy Malouf

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot paprika
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
7 ounces red lentils, rinsed
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup fine bulgur or kishke
1 vine-ripened tomato, cut into quarters and seeded
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 tsp dried mint
lemon wedges to serve

Heat the oil over low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the onion, carrot and garlic around in the hot oil, then add the cumin, hot paprika and 1 teaspoon of the sweet paprika and saute for 5-8 minutes, until the vegetables soften.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute. Add the lentils and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

When the lentils have broken down and become creamy, add the bulgur. Dice the tomato finely, then add to the pan, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls. Quickly heat the butter in a small frying pan until it foams, then add the remaining sweet paprika and the dried mint. Swirl the sizzling butter into each bowl of soup and serve with wedges of lemon.

Serves 6-8.

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3 thoughts on “Bother Bother [Red Lentil “Peasant” Soup with Sizzling Mint Butter]

  1. I’m afraid the same thing is going to start happening after we have a baby. Not so much the men approaching…but people in general.

    The soup looks delicious. When I’m not overheating from this crazy Ottawa weather, I’ll have to give it a try.

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