Either way, you too want to eat better, visit that one city, lose weight...or call it be more fit. You too want to finally learn Spanish, to make it to that one restaurant, or museum, or show, to climb that mountain, preferably on your bike, to save more money (or any money). You too want to finish that stack of books accumulating on your night stand and finally read War and Peace. You too want that better job, that better house, that better mate. But you make no formal declaration.
Or maybe that's just me. I am that person- the non-committal resolution-less snob. Of course I want to fit in those jeans I bought in 1998 when I was still in my teens and childless. Of course I want to finish the three books I started last year (one actually started in December 2008). And yes, brushing up on my Italian, Spanish, and French sure would be nice. I probably won't -- for a variety of reasons. And the reality is that there are much more important things to me than your standard weight-loss--healthy-eating--language-learning resolution.
Those more important things center around exterminating stuff that stresses me out: the things on my to-do list that have been there for months or years; the things I dread because they are so complicated to finish; the things I avoided doing because I wasn't ready to go through the 7 steps it takes to make it happen; the things I just can't get the motivation to get done even though they are a constant weight on my shoulders...the toddler's room, her closet (or lack thereof), her baby book, that table that needs painted, the art that need professional framing, the curtain that needs the care of a seamstress...random other stuff- installing the printer, organizing and reorganizing our storage, and printing our wedding album...before our 8th anniversary...
The 2011 goal is to do more and dwell less; to be more prepared to deal with all the complications of some tasks and just get them done instead of moving them onto a new to-do list; to go through the steps with the bigger goal in mind no matter how little the progress of each step means; to just do it.
Something about as simple, rewarding, and complicated as the baby book is this lentil soup. From left to right in the picture are some of the things you need to get going on the soup- garlic confit, soffritto, veal stock, and chicken stock. I had these either in my fridge or freezer. If only I had all the things I needed to make the baby book match my vision for it too...
Lentil Soup, a Bouchon-inspired recipe
Ingredients: 4 ounces bacon cut in slices and cross hatched with the sharp tip of a knife; 1/2 cup drained soffritto; 2/3 cup Le Puy lentils, picked of stones and rinsed; 1/2 large onion, peeled; 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in 3 inch pieces; 1 large leek, white and light green parts, cut lengthwise in half and washes; sachet, made with 4 garlic cloves; 4 cupschicken stock; 4 cups veal stock.
Sachet: one 7 inch cheesecloth square; 8 thyme sprigs, 2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs; 2 bay leaves; 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns; 4 garlic cloves, skin on, smashed. Wrap all ingredients in the cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine.
Soffritto: 1 pound yellow onions, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch); 1 cup olive oil; kosher salt; 1 pound plum tomatoes, seeded and grated on a box grater (discard peel); 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic; and about 5 hours close to the stove. Combine onions, oil, and a pinch of salt in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and keep it on low heat to maintain a gentle bubble. The onions will stew and then caramelize- this will take about 2 1/2 hours until the onions are deep golden brown and the oil is clear. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2- 2 1/2 hours or until the onions and tomatoes start to fry in the oil. Add another pinch of salt and the garlic and turn heat off. Drain oil before using.
Garnishes: 16 spring onions (white and light green parts only), trimmed and lightly blanched; 3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces, blanched in salted water until tender; 24 garlic confit cloves; 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley; 2 tablespoons minced chives.
Heat a heavy medium pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and let it render its fat for about 3 minutes. Add the soffritto, stir for one minutes and then add the lentils. Le Puy lentils are what you want to use- your specialty grocery store and Whole Foods probably have them.
Add the onion, carrot, leek. sachet, and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-35 minutes or until the lentils are tender. When cooked, remove the vegetables, the bacon, and the sachet.
This soup is actually better the next day when you should bring it to a simmer, add the garnishes, sprinkle the herbs and dig in. And keep those resolutions!
Photography by Jennifer Olson.