December. At last. The first full weekend with no script. No agenda. Nothing to do, nowhere to be. A Saturday morning spent dreaming the night’s dream away. A prolonged escape from the life that awaits. And before reality sets back in. Breathing in the air of potential and falling in and out of sleep, pushing away the start of the day and enjoying the extra time on pause. Slowing the process down.
Everything changes when you have time, when life isn’t pulling you in a million directions. The sky that rushes past you on weekdays seems to stand still on weekend mornings. A picture sitting high atop it all, slowing down like the rest of us. The cars that hurry and rush aren’t anywhere to be seen, or they slow down and enjoy the journey. Look around. Just like I do.
The weekend we had looked forward to had finally arrived. The blank space on the agenda that seemed so far away all those moons ago was now here. All ours to do with it as we wish. Do as little or as much as we see fit. Sleep in. Linger. Relax. The three things that have escaped us had finally returned. With open arms.
I thought of attacking it with a vigor and accomplishing so much. And I thought of letting it approach me. Sitting back and enjoying it as it comes. Little by little. One beautiful dance where life opens up and shows herself to you. All her warts, all of her beauty. All she has to offer. And accepting her for it.
So I woke up yesterday willing to let the mood of the day decide the route I would take. It was relaxed. Thankfully. I grabbed my morning cup of coffee, stood by the large front windows in our living room and stared outside. It seemed lifeless, still and measured. No activity whatsoever, the sky was murky grey and congested. It was slow and peaceful. I wanted slow and peaceful. I wanted every reason to stay inside.
My wife was out with some girlfriends the night before. I was expecting her home in a couple of hours but I took the silence in the house as a chance to unwind in the kitchen and brainstorm. I tidied up and sat down with my food journal and pen and just wrote. The best ideas happen when you let them. Any thought that came up, I jotted down. Before I knew it I had the makings of five fabulous recipes to work with. And I started on number one right then and there. This recipe.
I always like to make a pot of soup on the weekends through fall and winter. Some people bake, I make soup. It helps create an aroma for the house and I let it sit on low for a couple of hours so I can pour a bowl if I get hungry. Now and again. I grabbed everything I already had in my pantry and made this, something hearty enough to have on its own and with layers and depth of flavour.
I let this simmer away and entice me as I grabbed a coffee and took the dog for a walk. The two of us doing something that the three of us normally do. It was still quiet out, slow out, as we made our way around the neighbourhood. I told him it was just a matter of time until his mommy gets home. And then, after circling the streets and homes nearby, we came back home. When we walked through the door I could smell this wonderful soup greeting me. Just as I had hoped it would.
My wife came home shortly after that and I called her over. I lifted the lid of the soup and told her I’d be getting this ready for us. We ate lunch with some fresh market bread and commented on how unusual it was to not have something pulling us in one direction or another. To not have somewhere important to go, or something relatively important to do. I smiled. I like this just the way it is, because I know it won’t last long. It never does.
The day came and went just as it started. Slowly. Surely. Measured. Everything I wanted it to be when the madness was everywhere and there was no rest in sight. And luckily, that was what we got. And just the beginning. The rest of the day took the lead from the morning. We fell into it and didn’t think about it too much. Just let it all happen, and it happened.
Today started just as yesterday left off. You lead, I follow. We slept away the cobwebs from yesterday. It takes some time sinking into a new routine, when something old is new again. We pushed off the beginning as long as we could, finally giving in around 9am. Like yesterday, the movement outside was limited and quiet. Just like we’re going to be the rest of today. Luckily, I still have some soup leftover from yesterday. To turn to when I want some, again and again.
From my kitchen to yours,
Lentil, Bacon & Oregano Soup
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 leeks, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp. oregano leaves
- 200 grams bacon, roughly chopped (plus 3 slices for later)
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 1 400 gram can lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 can chopped plum tomatoes
- sea salt & pepper
- fresh oregano leaves for garnish
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When oil gets hot, add in the leeks, garlic, oregano and chopped bacon. Cook for ten minutes until bacon browns up a bit.
- Add in the lentils, stock and tomatoes with juice. Season and bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes.
- Pour into soup bowls and garnish with some oregano leaves and a slice of bacon. Serves 4.