Friday, June 1, 2012


On several occasions I have discussed about eating on a budget* and shared my thoughts, knowledge as well as tips when it comes to feeding healthily and developping tasty menus despite one's sheer lack of money. As a matter of fact, my blog is dedicated to the art of living a humble and harmonious lifestyle that is oriented towards the respect of our bodily vessel and nature (understanding seasons, boycotting industrial food, going local,  etc...).
I firmly believe that it is possible to put together well-balanced and indulgent dishes without having to break the piggy bank. There are numerous produces out there that cost peanuts, are nutritious and gratifying. Quality doesn't always have to be linked to expensiveness (read this post on the subject).

After more than 14 years of subsisting with very little, this frugal existence has become such a part of myself that even if my household's income was fatter and, as a result, it would enable me to cook meat at every meal, I'd still stick to my current dietary habits. Part-time vegetarianism is what suits me best (no elitism here). Having seven carnivorous meals a week would drain me of my energy and transform me into an unfit blob.

Don't get me wrong, I adore beef, pork, lamb, chicken, wild, etc... as much as anybody else and refuse to totally stop enjoying animal flesh, but just as it is the case with bread, my organism would not be able to deal with it on a daily basis. I would put on weight, experience a sensation of heaviness and load my blood with bad cholesterol. 
Anticipation of pleasure is, in itself, a very considerable pleasure.
- David Hume, “A Treatise of Human Nature”
I see absolutely no pleasure in gobbling down steaks, stews and other meaty fry-ups all the time. Delectation comes from anticipation, craving and restriction whereas routine and abundance kill the thrill. Besides, an  excessive consumption of meat is known to have negative repercussions on the environment (read this interesting piece of writing), thus people should be more responsible, less greedy and not take everything for granted.

An alternative source of protein, omega-3, vitamins and minerals is fresh fish (ecologically farmed or fished). Unfortunately, I cannot afford to buy as much of it as I'd like to, so I make sure that I consume enough tinned fish (mackerel, herring, sardines/pilchards and tuna) as well as loads of vegetables, fruits, cereals, seeds, nuts, milk products and most importantly that I regularly incorporate legumes to my culinary creations.
She spent the better part of her dayat work in the kitchen. At home with her mother, meals had been simple - fava beans and olive oil, rghaif and tea, bread and olives, couscous on Fridays, whatever her mother could afford to buy ]...[
- Laila Lalami, "Hope And Other Dangerous Pursuits"
I really love my beans. They are economical, sustainable, salubrious, hearty, delectable, exceptionally nutritional (protein, fiber, vitamins, omega-3 fats, calcium, potassium, zinc and many other essential nutrients) and incredibly practical. Once looked upon as peasant fare, this gorgeous ingredient is nowdays extremely trendy and considered Haute Cuisine. In 2012, it is difficult not to find a chef or person of letters who doesn't focus his/her attention on this wonderful produce and subsequently, blogs and magazines have jumped on the bandwagon too. 

Uncovering new methods of preparing those plant seeds is a hobby of mine. I'm constantly impressed by their versability and cannot get tired of them. This is why I was delighted when Crescent Dragonwagon asked me if I'd like to receive her latest book "Bean By Bean". There was no way I was going do decline her generous offer, especially since I had been eying this interesting publication on Amazon before it was released.

I dare you to browse through "Bean By Bean" and not feel the urge to run to the kitchen and make a delicious pot of beans. With just a bean pot, a wooden spoon, and a few everyday ingredients, Crescent will be right by your side as you make incredible salads, soups, stews, chilis, and more. Long-time bean lovers will find lots of great information. And if you're new to beans, I can't imagine a happier introduction.
- Steve Sando, Founder, Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food
Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, that's her name!) was born in New York to writer-editor Charlotte Zolotow and the late show-business biographer Maurice Zolotow. She is the James Beard Award-winning author of seven cookbooks, including "Passionate Vegetarian" and "The Cornbread Gospels" as well as children's books, poetry collections and novels. Furthermore, this busy red-haired lady is a contributing editor to "Relish" magazine, has appeared on a few TV/radio programs (Good Morning America, Today, The Splendid Table, etc...) and has concocted her famous specialities for influential personalities such as Hillary and Bill Clinton, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Paul Zindel and Betty Friedan.

With her late husband C.D. spent 36 years in the Ozark Mountain community of Eureka Springs in Arkansas where they owned Dairy Hollow House, an acclaimed country inn and restaurant. Today, she lives in her 1795 Vermont farmhouse where she teaches two workshops ("Fearless Writing" & Deep Feast: Writing The World Through Food"), writes, cooks, gardens and grows 4 different varieties of bush beans.

She is indubitably a talented woman and that shows in her well-researched and entertaining recent publication. "Bean By Bean" is chock-a-block full with mouthwatering, inspiring, enchanting, international (Tuniasia, Greece, Hungary, India Japan, France, America, etc...) and step-by-step formulas (200+) for simple as well as sophisticated entrées/starters (dips, spreads, etc...), sides (bread, sauteed vegetable, etc...), main courses (soups, salads, casseroles, skillets, etc...) and sweet treats/desserts (ice creams, cakes, cookies, etc...). Each of them is adaptable (multiple variations) and clearly coded as "meatist", "gluten-free", "vegetarian" or "vegan" - in most cases meat is optional. This amazing compendium overflows with frivolous humor, captivating information (about the science, nutrition and history of beans), masterful tips, lore, anecdotes and lovely quotes.

A highly recommendable and enlightening read. Despite the fact that it contains not one single photo and only offers a handful of illustrations, this substantial and comprehensive cookbook is definitely a keeper and is a must-have addition to every foodie's bookshelf. It is impossible to leaf through "Bean By Bean" without feeling the irrepressable urge to run into kitchen and test one of her fabulous creations (for ex. "Three Sister Salad With Fresh Corn And Zucchini Ribbons", "Lentil Tapenade", "Tanzanian Black-Eyed Pea & Coconut Soup", "Brown Bean Chili With Sweet Potatoes", "Thai Green Curry Of Green Beans, "Green Pepper & Tofu", "Cornbread Pie A La Hippie", "Neo-Traditional Felafels", "Shiitake Mushrooms, Butter Beans & Southern Greens", "Lime Tofu Mousse-Custard", "Red Bean Ice Cream", etc...).

Selecting a course to present on Rosa's Yummy Yums was not an easy task. With so much choice, I had difficulties making up my mind. Anyway, I finally opted for a soup as brothy concoctions are seldom featured on my blog and I thought that it would be a good idea to showcase one of the many divine potages which can be found in this epitome of scrumptiousness. 

Crescent Dragonwagon's "Spicy Syrian-Style Lentil Soup" is subtly spicy, refined tasting and delightfully exotic. Its greatness lies in the elegant blend of contrasting flavors used (pungent/vibrant, piquant, fresh & balmy), its exquisitely velvety texture and vivid color echoing the incredible generosity and magnificence of the Middle East.

As you can quite imagine, it was a big hit with us. We nearly completely emptied the pot at once and licked our bowls clean; not one drop of that heavenly velouté was lost. A soon to become classic at my place!

* Check out my article "3 Ways To Eat On A Budget And Improve Your Health At The Same Time".

Syrian Lentil Soup 4 1 bis
Spicy Syrian-Style Lentil Soup (Shawrbat Addas Majroosha)
Slightly adapted from "Bean By Bean" by Crescent Dragonwagon, Workman 2012.

Serves 6.

1 Cup (225g) Split red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 Tbs Uncooked rice
1 Biggish carrots, coarsely chopped
1/4 Cup (60ml) Olive oil
2 Large onions, chopped
1 Jalapeño or other fresh chile, stemmed, seeds removed for mildness or left in for heat, chopped
2 Tsp Fine sea salt
2 Tsps Ground cumin
2 Tsps Ground coriander
1/2 Tsps Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of saffron threads
1/4 Cup (60ml) Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices, for garnishing
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnishing

Syrian Lentil Soup 9 2 bis
1. Combine the lentils, rice, and carrot in a large soup pot. Add 2 quarts (8 cups/1920ml) water and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chile and continue to cook until the onions are limp and golden, but not brown, about 5 minutes more.
3. When the lentils come to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and let cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Then stir in all the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice and garnishes. Cover again and cook for about 15 minutes.
4. Cool the soup to lukewarm-ish, then transfer to a food processor and buzz, pausing to scrape down the side of the bowl, until you have a nice thick puree.
5. Return the soup to the pot and reheat it, stirring in the lemon juice just before serving it.

The split red lentils can be replaced by split yellow lentils and the basmati rice by 1 pita bread (preferably stale & torn into pieces).
I didn't have any saffron threads, so I used 125mg ground saffron.

Serving suggestions:
Serve nice and hot with a lemon slice and a sprinkle of cilantro atop each bowl.
You can also garnish the soup with fried onions or fried garlic.

Soupe De Lentilles Rouges A La Syrienne (Shawrbat Addas Majroosha)
Recette adaptée de "Bean By Bean"
par Crescent Dragonwagon, Workman 2012.

Pour 6 personnes.

1 Tasse (225g) de Lentilles rouges, rincées
2 CS de Riz basmati
1 Grosse carotte, grossièrement coupée
1/4 Tasse (60ml) d'Huile d'olive
2 Gros oignons, hachés
1 Piment jalapeño (ou autre piment frais), ouvert, épépiné ou non et haché
2 CC de Sel de mer fin
2 CC de Cumin moulu
2 CC de Coriandre moulue
1/2 CC de Poivre noir fraîchement moulu
Une pincée de pistils de safran
1/4 de Tasse (60ml) de Jus de citron fraîchement pressé
Les tranches de citron, pour la garniture
Feuilles de coriandre fraîches, pour la garniture (selon goût)

Syrian Lentil Soup 8 2 bis
1. Mettre les lentilles, le riz, et la carotte dans une grande casserole. Ajouter 2 litres (8 tasses/1920ml) d'eau et porter à ébullition sur feu vif.
2. Pendant ce temps, dans une grande poêle, faire chauffer l'huile d'olive à feu moyen-vif. Ajouter les oignons et les faire suer, en remuant souvent, jusqu'à ce qu'ils commencent à ramollir, pendant environ 5 minutes. Ajouter le piment et poursuivre la cuisson jusqu'à ce que les oignons soient dorés (mais pas bruns), pendant environ 5 minutes supplémentaires.
3. Quand l'eau des lentilles est en ébullition, baisser le feu et faire mijoter, à couvert, pendant environ 10 minutes. Puis ajouter tous les ingrédients restants
(sauf le jus de citron et les garnitures). Couvrir et faire cuire pendant environ 15 minutes de plus.
4. Laisser refroidir la soupe afin qu'elle soit tiède, puis la transvaser dans un robot culinaire et mixer (racler le côté du bol entre chaque pulsation), jusqu'à obtention d'une purée épaisse et veloutée.
5. Remettre la soupe dans la casserole et la réchauffer, en remuant. Juste avant de servir, ajouter le jus de citron.


Les lentilles rouges peuvent être remplacées par des lentilles jaunes et le riz basmati par 1 pain pita (de préférence rassi et déchiré en morceaux).
Comme je n'avais pas de pistils de safran, j'ai utilisé 125mg de safran moulu.

Idées de présentation:
Servir bien chaud avec une tranche de citron et saupoudrer avec une pincée de coriandre.
Vous pouvez également garnir la soupe avec des oignon frits ou de l'ail frit.

Syrian Lentil Soup 1 1 bis


  1. Just beautiful and rich (looking) lentil soup. Love the blue plate against the orange of the soup.

  2. What a lovely and comforting bowl of soup!

  3. rich creamy and the food arrangement too :)

  4. This is one gorgeous soup! And vegetarian, just what I am!
    I am so making this!
    Thank you, Rosa.

  5. C'est parfait ! et magnifique !!! les photos sont toujours si belllllllllles !
    bon weekend et bises Rosa, à bientôt !

  6. I came to beans later in life because my father disliked them so we seldom had them growing up. Now I am in love! I shall look for the book and will definitely make this delectable soup. I always go meatless a few times a week... just because...

  7. Hello Rosa,

    I'm always so inspired by what you do here and love the fatc that your present great food without expensive ingredients - sounds to me like you eat really well so why change anything? Red lentil soup is a favourite of mine and I'd kill to try a bowl of yours - so beautifully presented. Beans are so good and healthy.

  8. J'aime tout dans cette soupe.
    Je suis une fan finie des épices et des lentilles.

  9. Sounds soooo good! I just saw a recipe for "egyptian red lentil soup" this sounds similar, spicy and aromatic.

  10. I feel like jumping into that bowl now!!
    I am really big on soup and this looks delicious...

  11. THis is such a comfort meal everything here ...yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmo :)

  12. Rosa - what a gorgeous lentil soup. The saffron imparts such a beautiful orange color with the carrots. Love the spices. I'm trying this one for sure! Gorgeous photos of it!

  13. J'aime ** Je prends !!! Bonne soirée , bisous

  14. I agree with you Rosa! Truly, we can enjoy a nice healthy and delicious dish without emptying our pockets. Your soup sounds really comforting and yummy and I really love the contrast on the third shot, white, black and red. Awesome! Gros bisous and have a great day.

  15. utterly comforting bowl of soup! I love the color. Trying this really soon.
    Have a a great weekend.

  16. Beautiful soup, beautiful photography!

  17. i can't afford having too much of fish too! :(

  18. I bookmark this version of lenti soup since I love lentils. It seems delicious!Your pictures are an oasis of beauty...Thank you!

  19. yes please bring on the spice!
    lentils need a lot of help, i cannot eat them plain--so this is perfect.
    have a wonderful weekend Rosa!

  20. Hi Rosa,
    The soup looks lovely! I love the blue plate in the photograph. It's gorgeous!

  21. The soup looks so beautiful and sunny! I would love to have it in spite of today's heat.

  22. Sounds delicious! I adore legumes, especially lentils. The cookbook sounds fantastic!

  23. de superbes photos .. Je trouve cette soupe fabuleux pour ces soirées encore fraîches...
    passe un très bon we, biz

  24. I love to have this soup before the main course, it's delicious and light. Thanks for the recipe Rosa! I checked the book on amazon,looks interesting.

  25. Love the flavours and that crafty bit of post photography with black and white and colour!

  26. I am from the south and southerners love their beans. It did not come as a surprise to me to find the authors of the cookbook lived in the south for a while.

    I admire your dedication to living and eating a healthy lifestyle while not breaking the bank. When we were in our fifties we ate much like you are doing (out of necessity I might add) and it probably was the healthiest time in our lives.

    This is the most beautiful bowl of soup I've ever seen Rosa.

  27. Such a fan of your photography its stunning! Love the spicy lentil soup!

  28. Lentil soup is a favorite in my house. Sounds like a fantastic book, Rosa!

  29. Hi Rosa, I have just found your blog and am loving your concept on food and eating. This soup looks fantastic, we need lentils and beans. Tried to subscribe but can't find a subscribe button or it could just be me. Let me know if I have overlooked something. Love your photos as well. Cheers.

  30. Delicious sounding soup. This is what I consider an exotic meal.

  31. This soup is splendid!! Gorgeous Rosa!

  32. One of my favorite soups!!! I love ur photos!!

  33. I need to make this soup this weekend! I think I have almost all the ingredients. I will let you know how it turns out. :)

  34. I never get tired of lentils. Lovely recipe. Bean by Bean sounds very interesting. I liked the article you wrote for The Rambling Epicure.

  35. Une soupe qui fait envie ;)

  36. J'adore les lentilles Rosa. Délicieuse cette soupe épicée. Encore une fois, tes photos sont splendides.
    Bon dimanche.

  37. Totally appreciate your thoughts on simple living!
    As for the soup, hard to tell which is better - teh recipe or the delectable pictures that you have put up with it. The recipe makes use of ingredients very similar to Indian Cuisine, so it is easy for me to try out too! Lovely recipe and pics!

  38. Well said my friend. It's possible to eat healthily and delicious on a low budget. This soup sounds amazing!

  39. The lentil soup looks very comforting. Your photography and styling is brilliant, as always.

  40. Amazing pictures.
    Thanks for the lovely blog ;-)
    I don't know if you've visited my new vegetarian food blog (cooking and baking) but if you haven't - I'd like to invite you (you can enjoy it even if you're not vegetarian).
    Feel free to stop by, say hello and follow the blog so that you'll be getting daily updates (-:

  41. I don't want to eat meat more than 1-2 times a week and love legumes as well. It's quite hot now for soup but will would love to try it when the weather chills.

  42. Wonderful! Husband and I both grew up pretty poor and spent the first years of our marriage living on love and beans. Although far from extravagant, we have gotten a bit too complacent and away from that diet. I have wanted to get back to it for a while (love beans and I know how good they are for us). This book sounds a great way to start.

  43. Moi aussi je suis partisane du végétarisme à temps partiel, ça me va très bien! J'adore cette belle soupe bien parfumée!

  44. Me encantan las sopas aquí hace mucho frío las tomo a diario luce maravillosa,fotos preciosas me encanta mucho la flor de la amapola,abrazos hugs,hugs.

  45. I prefer to eat a quality cut of meat once a couple times a week, than some poor cuts seven days a week. It doesn't have to be just because of frugalness, but also flavour! Which is what I'd expect from this soup as well! In a word... yum!

  46. Rosa, we are really on the same page. I made a lentil soup this week too! :D

  47. Your photos are so beautiful as usual, love the colours of that soup and the flowers!

  48. Love the dandelion reminded me how I used to blow them into the wind! :)
    Great soup, Rosa...lentils are wonderful; I even make burgers with them!

  49. Cette soue a une couleur splendide. J'adore la soupe de lentilles, c'est a la fois rustique et genereux. en fait je suis come toi, je les aime tous, les haricots.

  50. Rosa, it is AWESOME to see you back with a recipe. This soup looks wonderful and the flower photos are amazing!

  51. Rosa, I have seriously rediscovered my love of legumes in the past year. The frugality is great and the favor and nutritious satisfaction is deep.

  52. That's what I could need now - after two weeks in france feeling like being back in very earls spring. A warm nourishing soup would be perfect! And I love your styling and shooting! Not only the soup, the flowers as well!
    Once again congrats on a great article. It is a helpful resource and a lot of people should read it.

  53. The soup looks really good! Sometimes, I just crave for a soup like this to warm up souls!

  54. You are such a talent, girl! I love everything about this post!

  55. I love lentils of all types. The red ones are nice when you're in a hurry - they cook so fast. And I agree with many of your thoughts on frugality, eating, etc. Thanks for the link on 13 ways to eat on a budget - interesting reading. Good post. Thanks.

  56. As a vegetarian beans are my staple...this soup is beautiful, flavorful and all comforting!

  57. Absolutely wonderful lentil soup, Rosa. So rich in flavor...sounds simply perfect for a day at home.(I'm a fan of lentils too and love combining lentils with quinoa.)This soup recipe goes on my list of 'must try soon' :)

    And pics are beautiful as usual.

    Hugs <3

  58. I adore beans and could possibly live the rest of my life on them,so versatile!! great review!

  59. What a coincidence! I was planning to make a similar soup today! Love red lentil soups the most! Your photos are just stunning!

  60. Petite soupe toute simple et qui réchauffe mon âme ! Ne dit-on pas que les potages apaisent et rendent plus tendres avec les autres ?
    Mille fois oui à cette soupette goûtue ! Quant à Wyatt et Rachel Brooke, alors là, comment dire ? Que toutes mes racines du pays vert se réveillent !!!

  61. Rosa, what a beautiful and tasty lentil soup...I like how creamy it turns out...
    Beautiful pictures as always.
    Hope you are having a great week :)

  62. Wonderful soup, beautiful pictures!!!

  63. I love beans for the same reasons you outline and found this cookbook to be a refreshing change. I made the other Syrian soup and rather enjoyed it so I will have to try this version, too! :)

  64. Bet this soup has such lovely texture, what with being whirled in the food processor until smooth. Love the artsy pics of the soup, too.

  65. The soup looks amazingly delicious! I need to eat lentils mores.

  66. A huge fan of bean dishes. I am going to add this book to my wish list!
    Fantastic marco clicks, Rosa.

  67. the soup looks heavenly..and I love lentil soup! Your pictures are just stunning and makes the soup look even more tempting for my tea tonight!

  68. It's winter here now and your soup looks absolutely irresistible to me. There's nothing better than a comforting soup in winter.

    By the way, that dandelion photo is amazing!

  69. Jolie et vraiment délicieuse cette soupe!!

  70. You cover the food spectrum so well Rosa. I love your philosophies. This soup looks warm, nourishing and absolutely delicious. I have bookmarked this to make in the next few weeks with the colder weather we are experiencing here.

  71. i love lentil soup! it seems like lentils are only ever used for soup, but that's okay because they're perfect for it!

  72. the soup looks very filling. i love the image of the red flower so much !

  73. Hi Rosa,

    Well you may say your recipes are frugal but my dear each and everyone of them looks exquisite and top grade. I've said for years that eating on a budget while keeping it healthy and delicious is not a hard task. You are living proof of it. Love your soup recipe!

  74. J'aime toutes les soupes, mais ce que je préfère, c'est ta photo de pissenlit. Je suis tombée en amour !!!

  75. I am quite carnivorous but that's because I was brought up in a farming household. Now I am happy to eat veggies instead of meat and it's a healthier option. Lentils are great - I need to make more effort to explore other dried pulses too!

  76. Sounds like a vibrant soup filled with spicy flavors. Delicious!

  77. what is the first song on your blog? a man and a woman are singing and it kinda sounds like an old nick cave song...thank you! xxx

  78. I actually never tried lentils soup in my life. If it looks like this, I think I'll finish up the soup very quickly. Have a great weekend!

  79. The soup looks so comforting and delicious. Wishing I had a bowl!

    I love your photos, Rosa - such eye candy!

  80. ANONYMOUS: It is "Poor Desperate Fools" by Lonesome Wyatt & Rachel Brooke. You are right, it sounds quite Nick Cave-like... xx

  81. rosa: thank you will check the song out asap!! xx

  82. This is a magnificent bowl of soup. I love all the flavours in it!!

  83. Now that's a soup to save for a cool, rainy summer day.

  84. ANONYMOUS: You are welcome, dear! xxx

  85. There is nothing more satisfying than soup. I love soups even in the summer. Yum!

  86. J'adore les lentilles roses, c'est génial car ça se prépare super vite et devient crémeux à souhait.
    Dans les préparations indiennes, c'est aussi tip top!

  87. Your soup looks incredible and your photography is beautiful.

  88. I saw the black & white picture and was wondering what kind of soup. I think lentils are gold. I never get tired of cooking with them and I am always looking for new recipes... thanks Rosa!