The other day I received my newsletter from the great, , traditional Benedictine monks in Norcia . The beer monks. You might consider subscribing to their beer club! Sign up and receive their terrific beer every month. This is very important for their income, especially as they have to rebuild so much that was destroyed. And now, with the problems in Italy, they need lots of support.
Back to the newsletter.
This time, they included a recipe for lentils.
“Lentils!”, quoth I. “I very much like lentils. I think I have some stashed in the cupboard.”
Sure enough. I found a sack with about 125g. I did the math on the recipe, slimming it down, and looked for the other things.
Since I lacked the chicken broth they suggested, I got out a “pod” of concentrated broth which I have in reserve. Add hot water and stir it up.
After dicing up the carrot and onion, I added the broth and lentils.
No celery in the fridge for the soffritto. Big problem?
I improvised, I adapted, I OVERCAME the dearth of a celery stalk.
It was going to need some salt anyway. Right?
After some 20 minutes, I added the tomatoes.
Let it simmer with a bay leaf. I bumped it up with a sprig of rosemary.
Friday supper in Lent: Lentils and half a toasted bagel. This was my only meal of the day. I’m fasting a bit on Fridays for some intentions.
This was NOT a hardship meal, friends. It was delicious. And the bitters added an interesting tang behind the other flavors.
It is good right now to think in terms of simple foods which have a good shelf life.
Here is the recipe from the Norcia newsletter.
St. Benedict’s Lenten Lentils
Serves 4-6 People
1 minced carrot
1 rib of minced celery
1 minced white onion
4 minced garlic cloves
17.6 oz (500g) of small brown lentils -Italian or Umbrian if possible (Lenticchie di Castellucio)
5 1/4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 of a 28 oz can of peeled, whole Italian tomatoes (diced)
1. Sauté the minced carrot, celery, onion and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes.
2. Add stock, lentils, bay leaf; bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add diced tomatoes and salt to taste, continue cooking for at least 15 more minutes, until lentils are tender and have slightly thickened.
4. Remove the lentils from the heat source and let them sit covered for 10 minutes (this will help thicken them).
5. Serve drizzled with olive oil and accompanied by toasted bread.
Back to the beer for a moment. It would be really good and quite monastic to have their beer with those lentils. And pray singing the table prayers using THESE before and after the meal!
You can now get FLAT-RATE SHIPPING at$14.99 for a case to anywhere in these USA. If you order 3 or more cases, you get FREE shipping. Also, all subscribers to the Brewmonks’ Club get FREE shipping. Their beers are available in both in .75 liter bottles in cases of 6 and of 12. You can get 1 case per month or 1 case every other month.
NB: Also, they monks reached out to me and said that for every FIVE new Club members who sign up and reference “Father Z” in the “Notes about your Order” line, I will get a free case of beer to share with my priest friends and the bishop!
It’s Lent and we are at war with an invisible enemy. That doesn’t mean that you have to eat poorly or have – quod Deus avertat! – ordinary beer.
If traditional Benedictine monks are going with lentils made with a little chicken broth during LENT, I think I will risk the recipe on a Friday.
Also, from the website of the USCCB:
Q. I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as meat. Does meat include chicken and dairy products?
A. Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.
That “However” is important, however.
As it goes, I wouldn’t have chicken soup, but I could use some broth to cook my lentils.