Thursday, November 19, 2009


A few weeks ago I got a call from my friend Carol. She asked me to stop by her house on the way home from D-Group (I help teach 9th and 10th grade girls discipleship class) She said she had a few cookbooks that belonged to her mom that passed away and she would like to give me since I love to "read" cookbooks (like normal books, cover to cover) and enjoy cooking. She said she knew I would enjoy them as much as her mom did. She also said she also had a surprise for me. When I walked into the house I was in shock. The normally very spacious home was covered in stacks and rows of cookbooks and other books from her mom's extensive collection. The hardwood floors weren't even visible. In standard Carol style they were categorized by type and style. (You should see this woman's spice rack- it's phenomenal.) She tried to talk me into taking all of them. I told her that would require a house renovation! So for an hour or so I flipped through what was most likely 1,000 or more books. Carol had a few recommendations (cookbooks that she often used, and since I have never had anything but superior meals at Carol's house, I took her up on all of her suggestions) I had that great "auction" or "shoe sale" feel. I was in hog heaven. My surprise was a cookbook called "Please to the table: A Russian Cookbook"! I was so excited!
So for the last month I have been reading cookbooks, of course starting with "Please to the Table". Since it was written in 1990, it contains various "Soviet" region's recipes, not just traditional Russian fare. I read it, cover to cover, and then put it back on the shelf (actually back on the dryer because I haven't made room for the 50+ new books yet).
Then I found a new blog friend- Amy- (check her out at who also loves to cook and is waiting for her little Russian cupcake to come home too. She had made a few delicious looking dishes and posted them on her blog and I thought "I didn't see anything that looked like that in a Russian recipe book......" So after a few chats about our love of shopping and cooking, we decided it would be fun to have a cross country Russian cook-off. We agreed on 7 or 8 dishes and decided to TRY to cook the same recipe once a week; the first being "Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup" or "Vospapur". So tonight was the night. Unfortunately, Chad went to a concert tonight, but not to worry.....the soup made about 8 servings. *Honey-your soup is in the fridge- LOTS of it* Should have cut this one in half.
3 T. Olive Oil
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
2 lg. garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. dried, split, red lentils, well rinsed
5 c. Chicken Stock
3 med. ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 teas. ground cumin (I would use a lot less)
1/2 teas. dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Opt.: Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (I only bought this because I knew I would be posting a picture and wanted it to look pretty for you.....)
1. In large soup pot heat oil. Saute onion, garlic, and apricots. Stir until onion is soft. (This says 12 minutes, but mine took about 2 minutes)
2. Add lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for about 30 minutes until lentils are soft.
3. Stir in tomatoes, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer, covered for about 10 more minutes.
4. Remove half the soup and puree in a food processor (Note from Sarah: if you puree it all it will look like something that came from a diaper, trust me on this people). Return the puree to the pot, stir in lemon juice and more salt and pepper if you wish. Simmer 2-3 more minutes.
5. Sprinkle with parsley.
So- I bet you're dying to find out. How did it taste? Well- it was interesting. I would best describe it as "middle eastern vegetarian chili" It was very filling, very hardy, and very inexpensive to make. It tasted like it had meat in it and it warmed me right up. When I dipped the crusty bread it in, it kinda reminded me of hummus. The apricots were also a really yummy touch. They added a nice layer of flavor. Now- what I didn't love-
1- The color! Amy and I couldn't find red lentils, so we decided the brownish red would suffice. I'm sure it didn't effect the flavor, just the eye appeal. (See: Diaper)
2- The cumin! (Usually I love cumin in southwestern foods, but that just was too much! I think I might even substitute a nice smoked paprika next time. I think that would help the color too.....
Overall, I would call tonight a success. Interesting.....but a success! Stay tuned next week for "Moldavian White Bean Soup" Uhhhh...What's a moldavian? Just kidding ;0)


  1. YEAH! I am so excited to make this tomorrow night. Will post pics immediately after! I found the red lentils today at a fancy-schmancy little boutique grocery store but I doubt they will be any different/worth the search. I bought the parsley too for the same reason: pictures :)

  2. Ok, your story about the cookbooks is one of my fantasies come true---I would love to own a bookstore that's just kids books and cookbooks--well, and some romance novels. I LOVE old cookbooks!
    I have to admit that you are way more adventurous than me--I'm looking forward to what you guys try next. I have made a couple of recipes out of the "A La Russe" cookbook, but they were pretty familiar things--Apricot and Lentils sounds like its in the Julia Child league! Congrats!