The other day, I was talking to a colleague about, would you believe, lecturers who had inspired us when we were at university. We had both studied linguistics, so that made the conversation just a bit different from the usual ‘what I liked about uni’ conversations. Anyway, during our chat, I mentioned that the wife of my personal ‘academic hero’ had written a vegetarian cookery book back in the day. The book, The Happy Herbivore, is a lovely collection of home-grown recipes, easy to make, full of fun stories and some ingredients that I don’t think exist any more (who remembers Tartex? Can you still get it?).
The book is illustrated with charming pen and ink drawings like the one below. Jaime Lass was a cat lover and founder of the Lothian Cat Rescue, a vegetarian and illustrator and artist, all of which I don’t believe I appreciated at the time.
Like most recipe books, there are a couple of things that I return to again and again, in this case, the mushrooms on toast and the best lentil soup ever. The lentils are cooked in stock, with some bay leaves, ginger and a teaspoon of Marmite. Onions, garlic and mushrooms (and I sometimes add carrots), are cooked off separately then added to the soup. The finishing touch is a splash of lemon juice and dash of sherry, which quite frankly is what makes this a special lentil soup.
It is the perfect soup for winter days (it has turned cold here…), with some lovely crusty bread and perhaps a glass of red wine on the side. I don’t know how many times I have made this soup, but it always goes down well.
Did you know that the Latin for lentil is lens? Our word ‘lens’ is derived form the fact that a double convex lens is the same shape as a whole lentil (see page 28 of The Happy Herbivore).
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