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"Matthias Stomer (Umkreis) Das Linsengericht" byCircle of Matthias Stom (fl. 1615–1649) - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons


Today, we're going way back to the book of Genesis to make a soup as old as time. This potage of lentils will nourish your body and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The inspiration for the dish is the story of twin brothers Jacob and Esau, whose sibling rivalry lasted nearly their whole lives.

The twin sons of Rebekah and Isaac could not have been more different from each other. Esau was a hairy sumnabitch, and Jacob had smooth skin. Esau was an avid outdoorsman, while Jacob hung around the tent, studying. Jacob had vision and big plans, but Esau pretty much lived in the moment. Esau was born first by a few minutes, even though Jacob tried to pull him back into Rebekah's womb by his ankle. In those days, the firstborn status made Esau the primary heir to their father's fortunes. (Isaac had been such a successful businessman when living among the Philistines that the Philistine king told him to get out of town before they all got so jealous that they killed him and took all his stuff.)

The twins didn't really get along, and their parents did not do much to help the brothers' relationship. Rebekah preferred Jacob because he was such a sweetheart who always listened to his mother and told funny jokes and whatnot. Isaac preferred Esau because he brought home delicious wild game to eat. Jacob stewed over the fact that his redneck brother was going to get all the stuff when Isaac died, because he thought he could turn those flocks into real money if he had the chance.

So, one day Jacob was making a pot of soup when Esau returned from a few days of hunting in the bush. Esau was like, "Hey, that smells good, Bro. Think I could get a bowl?"

"Of course you can, in exchange for your birthright," Jacob said.

"I'm fucking starving. What do I give a shit about a birthright? All I need are some tasty waves and a cool buzz is my kick-ass cloak of Nimrod, and I'll be fine. Now give me a bowl of soup, you little pussy," said Esau.

He enjoyed the soup, eating like a slob and getting it all in his beard and in his arm hair, which he had a lot of. Then, with his belly full, Esau began to regret the deal he had just made, and the seed of a decades-long grudge was planted. This is just one example of the rash decisions Esau made that disappointed his parents. Another was the time he married a Canaanite woman, instead of a nice Jewish girl. The moral of the story is that, in a leader, dishonest trickery and other minor moral transgressions are preferable to short-sighted decision making.

Coincidentally, Jacob's first son was Reuben, so they were a real soup and sandwich type of family.

Esau's Stew

1 onion, diced

1-2 carrots, diced

1-2 celery stalks, diced

1 potato, peeled and diced

8-12 cloves of garlic, minced

Some fresh parsley, finely chopped (only about 3-4 stems worth)

1 heaping cup of red lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 quart of chicken stock (substitute vegetable, and you're looking at a vegan recipe)

1-2 bay leaves

1-2 lemons, halved

A large pinch/small handful of cumin seeds

Tabasco Sauce

Salt and pepper, as you go, to taste

Cut up all the vegetables.

Toast the cumin in a dry frying pan, then grind it up with your mortar and pestle.

In your favorite soup-making pot, saute the onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil for a few minutes.

Add half the garlic, half the parsley, and all the potatoes. Stir and let that cook for a few more minutes.

Stir in the lentils, bay leaves, and the stock. Bring it up to a boil, put the lid on, and turn it way down to low.

Cook until the lentils and potatoes are very soft, about a half-hour. Then throw in your remaining garlic and half of your lemons. Yes, just drop 'em in.

Cook for an additional 10 minutes or so. Fish out the bay leaves.

Using a stick blender, or the frozen-drink-making kind, puree what's still in the pot (yes, including those lemons). Be careful because this stuff is hot, and blending hot things is dangerous.

Juice your remaining lemons into the soup, add the cumin, and a few dashes of your homemade tabasco sauce.

Put a lemon wedge and some fresh parsley on each bowl of soup. Serve with some nice crusty bread. Keep the hot sauce handy.

It's also delicious as a cold soup, and depending on the thickness of the batch, a very nice dip/spread for vegetables or bread.

This dish is very bitter. As you eat it, savor that bitterness, and think about the grudges you hold. Lentils are an excellent source of both insoluble and soluble fiber, so this soup may help you get some of those grudges out of your system.

If you don't care for the bitterness, you could remove the lemons before you puree the soup. You could also just eat lemon sorbet for dinner because life is nothing but sweet treats and self-satisfaction.

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