A few years back, on a cold and dreary winter, my family and I decided to take a trip to get away
from the weather. Instead of flying South like most snowbirds do, we headed due West to
California with our Airstream camper. We parked it on the cliffs of Malibu and spent a month
there enjoying the warmth of the sun and the roar of the ocean waves pounding the shores
below us. Right down the road from our piece of paradise was a cute little shopping area called
the Malibu Country Mart, complete with some posh brands and a few very special restaurants. One of those, Taverna Tony's, is quite possibly my favorite restaurant ever. Maybe it's because it feels and smells like my mother's kitchen when I walk through the front door or maybe it's because of Tony, the owner and namesake, who treats each and every one of his guests like long lost family members. My favorite dish at his restaurant is a simple Lentil Soup
and I have been carefully trying to recreate the magic of it ever since. What I have found over
the years is that there are tons of ways to make Lentil Soup but the starting point is always the
same, a good broth made with celery and carrots. Simple enough! Mine is a little different from
Tony's, but equally delish in its own way, and it is a warm and healthy meal any day of the
week. It perfectly sums up Tony's motto that he told us as he sat at our table one day, sharing
moments with us as we ate dinner. "Give Love!" He said. "Give Love!"
And you know what...you can taste it in the soup!
1 ½ cups olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 head + stalks fennel
1 celery bunch
1 sprig Rosemary
3 Tbsp Basil
3 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Turmeric
14 cups of water
2 cups of green lentils
Salt to taste
Dice onion, garlic, fennel, celery and carrots and place in a large stock pot with olive oil and roast over medium heat, stirring until onions are translucent. Add in tomatoes and turmeric and continue to cook until the vegetables look soft. Add 14 cups of water to the vegetables and bring to a boil. When the broth is boiling bring the temperature down slightly to a simmer and add the lentils, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Cook for 15-20 minutes at a simmer or low boil until the lentils are soft. Lentils are easy to overcook, so keep an eye on the soup as you do this part. They should be cooked through but not mushy. I also prefer green lentils for lentil soup because they hold up better in the boiling water than red lentils. Add Salt to taste.
Lentil Soup is wonderful paired with a fresh green salad and a slice of french bread!