Tag Archives: Friendship

Family Dinner Favorite: Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Sausage Soup

I can’t remember which dinner favorite number I’m on, so I’ve decided to drop that catchy part of the dinner favorite series. Suffice it to say that this hearty, healthy and insanely delicious soup is most definitely a favorite – even with the kids.

If you have read many of my recipe posts then you will not be surprised to learn that this recipe comes from …

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Right! The Barefoot Contessa. Oh to be “Barefoot in Paris” – well, not all of Paris but I’m sure there are some parts where it is safe to be barefoot – a park maybe? The Jardin des Plantes or the Champ de Mars (I totally googled those) or the Louvre – okay maybe not the Louvre. If you ever do go barefoot in the Louvre in Paris, you really do have to come back here and tell me all about it!

Anyway, all tangents aside, this soup is one of my all time favorite things to eat. In case you were starting to think otherwise, we really do eat pretty healthy around here; apple dumplings and fancy mac and cheese are treats, delicious heavenly treats, but not staples on the regular menu.

Like so much of the food I love, this soup holds special memories for me. One of the first times I made it was two years ago when my high school friend Tara came from San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with us. She flew in late in the evening, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, after a long day of work in the corporate jungle. I knew that she needed to walk into warmth and comfort, feeling welcome and at home and wondering what that amazing smell was coming from the kitchen. It’s my job to know, I’m her friend.

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After a big hug and a few tears, I invited her to settle into the guest room, put on her jammies and warm socks and relax by the fire; letting the stress of a hectic pace and demanding job begin to melt away (and be replaced by the stress of three wild, really loud little kids who all want “Auntie Tara’s” attention at the same time – never mind that, just think warm and peaceful thoughts; it helps). I made quite a few yummy things for her during that visit (including Thanksgiving dinner) but that first evening of catching up around a warm fire with a steaming bowl of this soup is what stands out most in my memory. I hope it does in hers as well. I love you my friend.

Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Sausage Soup

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Yes, it looks delicious and it tastes even better.

Give yourself about two hours. The soup is easy to make but time-consuming with a lot of chopping and important steps that ensure proper flavor development. Take your time and enjoy the process, that is, afterall,  half the joy of creating a dish like this.

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Start with French Green Lentils

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I can only find them at one store (a specialty grocer) and they are pricey but Ina swears they are the most tender and flavorful of the lentils. Who am I to question? I will try it sometime with brown or red lentils though, just to see for myself.

Now for the chopping (which is very therapeutic if you didn’t know) …

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onions and leeks – sorry, I forgot to buy the leeks this time but the soup turned out great anyway.

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Carrots, medium dice.

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Celery, medium dice as well – split the stalk lengthwise and chop; be sure to use the celery leaves too, don’t throw them away.

Lentil-Soup-7Thyme and garlic. Be still my heart.

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Saute’ the onions, leeks (if you remembered to buy them), garlic, thyme and seasonings first.

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Add in the celery and carrots. If you are a food nerd like me, you can tell me what the French term is for the carrot, celery, onion combo – I know you can, even if you won’t admit it.

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Then the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils.

Lentil Soup 12Use a good chicken STOCK, not just broth – it really does make a difference.

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Add in the Kielbasa – the lower fat Turkey Kielbasa tastes great in the soup and is better for you.

Lentil-Soup-14The recipe calls for a splash of red wine, so since the bottle had to be opened anyway …

Lentil-Soup-18A glass of wine, a slice of crusty bread,

Lentil-Soup-19all that’s left is to sit down with someone you love and make some happy, warm memories.

Enjoy!

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Set Aside Busy for Brunch and a Deep Breath

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Christmas is just around the corner and we girls are BUSY. Have I mentioned that on top of everything else, I have a daughter with a birthday the week before Christmas? BUSY!! This time of year is hectic and our TO DO lists have never been longer. We overload, overcommit, overextend, overdo, and overwhelm … ourselves. It happens. It just does.

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We do all of this while desperately trying not to overlook the WHY of it all. We are celebrating the birth of Christ and the gift of salvation He lovingly and freely gave to us. We know that is what it is all about and it is important to us that in the busy-ness of it all, we slow down a bit and give ourselves time to breathe, time to reflect and time to be grateful. But how do we do it?

Prayer and personal quiet time with God is imperative to our well-being, perspective and spiritual health and is the first place to seek Him and find His peace. God loves and desires that time with us and He puts it on our hearts to need Him and to seek Him. But he has also created us to need each other and to desire connection. He loves to see us gather together in fellowship to enjoy each other’s company and share all that He has given us. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or fancy, in fact it is so much better when it isn’t. This past Thursday, I was so blessed to have a group of women that I have spent the last few months in bible study with come to my home for brunch. Brunch is by far one of my favorite ways to open my home and welcome others. It is easy, it is low-stress and for whatever reason, it is always special. This Thursday brunch was just that, special.

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It was a time to take a breath.

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To reflect on the time we had spent together in the study of God’s word.

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To break bread together and share a meal that everyone had a part in preparing and pulling together.

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To remember and rejoice in the true gifts of the season.

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To set ourselves right and enjoy each other’s company and the company of our Savior.

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To model for our children what it means to share life and gather together in fellowship.

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To be blessed by the wisdom of a Godly woman who encouraged us to come before the Lord with reflection on the state of our hearts and minds and partake of the elements that we might be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and give thanks for the real gifts of the season.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1Corinthians 11:23-26

May we continue to remember, Lord, what it is we celebrate this joyous season and thank you for the moments we spend together in fellowship, filled with your spirit.

Land of the Free Because of the Brave

Veteran’s Day is always a time of reflection in our home. We are a military family and the sacrifice for freedom is something we understand on a personal level.

My husband is an Air Force officer, commander and pilot. He has been “Air Force” since he first walked through the doors of the Air Force Academy 27 years ago in 1985. He has deployed countless times, flying the KC-135 Strato-Tanker in refueling missions all over the globe. He has always come home to me and that blessing is not lost on me. It is why every year, my heart is with those who have suffered such loss in sacrifice for our freedom and the freedom of those who can not fight for themselves.

My father-in-law, Gary Sr. is a decorated war hero who served three tours in Vietnam. He was gravely wounded and has spent his life overcoming the physical and emotional scars that his sacrifice left. But he is still with us. My kids have the privilege of knowing and loving their grandpa. That blessing is not lost on me either. It is why every year, my heart is with those who have come home broken in body, mind and spirit and why it is also with those who love them and are helping them fight their way “back”.

Today, though, my heart is also with Sonny, as it has been the last three years.

Sonny was my husband’s best friend in high school. He wasn’t a very big guy but he had huge personality and an even bigger heart. Larger than life. Sonny was a person so full of life that you couldn’t help but laugh whenever he was around. His real name was William but everyone called him “Sonny”, it was truly a fitting nickname. That is what I remember about Sonny – that and the Hawaiian Mess Dress shirt he wore under his uniform jacket at my wedding. That was so Sonny.

I also remember the day my husband told me he was gone.

We lost Sonny, CW5 Ret. William F. “Sonny” Hinchman, on July 17, 2009, in a helicopter crash just outside of Baghdad, Iraq. It was a Friday morning. He was 42.

Sonny had just retired the previous April after 25 years of service as a helicopter pilot flying Black Hawks, Cobras and Kiowas in the US Army. After retirement he returned to the Middle East to fly Kiowas for a private security company. It was a Kiowa he was flying that Friday morning.

Sonny by the “Little Bird” he loved so much.

Here is something else I want you to know about Sonny. All of the hours of flying gun ships, all of the dangerous missions, all of the years of service and I know without a doubt, one of the things he was most proud of was making a difference for the kids in war-torn Iraq. Sonny was part of a group of Kiowa helicopter pilots who started “Operation Soccer Ball”. These pilots took notice of the kids that would pick up rocks and hurl them at the helicopters whenever they flew over. Kids who were living through war, afraid, traumatized and angry. Kids very much in need of a little hope.

So, Sonny and a number of other pilots decided to start dropping soccer balls from their helicopters. Sonny told the story of one boy who was poised and ready to throw a rock at his chopper, a boy filled with hatred at all he thought that chopper stood for. When a soccer ball fell from the chopper, the boy dropped the rock, stood confused as he processed the moment and then grabbed the soccer ball and gave them the thumbs up and waved. It seems like such a small thing, a soccer ball, but that boy’s life was made better, perhaps even changed, for the brief moment Sonny was in it.

Thanks Sonny. Thanks for being someone my husband loved. Thanks for being someone I am proud to tell my kids about. Thanks for your heart and for your sacrifice.

We miss you.

Every day.

May God Bless America and the men and women who have fought and died in her defense. May He be with those who continue to answer her call and with their families who sacrifice so much.