While I am finishing my studies in Chinese Medicine, I work part time in a gourmet grocery/deli. Some may think this a rather humble vocation, but out of all my bitsy casual jobs, and even career-driven jobs, this one is in the top two. I love it because I’m surrounded by awesome food all day long. I get to talk to customers about their food ideas and ways to use our products, whether it be solicited or unsolicited. And that’s how I got the idea for this soup. A woman came to the register with red lentils and some pancetta I had just sliced for her, so I asked if she was using them together. Sure enough, yes she was. The recipe is pretty simple, so simple she told me in a 30 second conversation at the register. I love red lentils and the texture they create, so I resolved then and there that I’m going to make it, adding my own flare.
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I do miss my vegan days sometimes. Being vegan opened up my world to a heap more variety and dare I say it, culinary creativity…yet closed the door to a whole lot more food than I care to give up (marinated goats feta for example). I much prefer being flexitarian, or ecotarian, or some other label that I haven’t encountered, to describe someone who eats like a vegan, taking advantage of alternatives, and who also eats consciously, mindfully and wisely.
Which lead me to revisit an old favourite cookbook, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Veganomnicon. Honest, you don’t even have to be vegan to appreciate some well-crafted recipes. So, despite having parmesan in the fridge, I made something different, something more, with a bit more creativity, loads of taste, and some health benefits thrown in. I made Almesan.