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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie an/or get her cooking advice, .

Editor's Note: Instead of Aunt Nettie answering individual questions, she has decided to address a number of requests from people who want to save money on the food budget and still enjoy healthy dining. This is one of a series of money-saving tips and recipes designed to stretch those slim dollars.

As an example of Aunt Nettie's impressive, penny-pinching ability to save, she still has some depression glass dishes and bowls in the cupboard--they're the real thing and she still treasures them.

In future issues of Vegetarians in Paradise, Aunt Nettie and her niece Zel will offer more money-saving recipes for the most extreme skinflints along with suggestions to help bargain-hunter foodies seek out cheap fare that still brings good cheer to the table.


Sixty-third in a series of articles


Howdy there Darlin's,

Well now, we done said bye bye to a mighty wonderful year. An' now we gittin' started on a brand new year. I cain't imagine this new year could possibly be as speshul as last year was, but I always have a happy outlook an' figger this might even be a grand year!

But y'all don't need ta hear me go on 'bout what kind o' year this might be. Let's git ta some perky fixin's, an' what's goin' on in my kitchen right now is soup--a great big kettle o' soup packed with lentils and a heap o' veggies.

Can you imagine more'n one person in my family's been tellin' me, "Aunt Nettie, please make me one of your delicious soups." Seems soup's on the top o' ever'body's mind, so I'll git right to it. One o' my fav'rite fixin's is lentils.

I tell ya true, it's hard ta make a bad meal when makin' lentil soup--it's such a belly-filler an' tastes so good. Why, 1 pound o' lentils kin make at least 55 different kinds o' soup--imagine that! Now, in this here kettle I went a-lookin' at my spice shelf and put in a pinch of this an' that. An' afore I knowed it, why I had one o' the best lentil soups I ever tasted.

I hopes you enjoy it as much as my family did.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Lentil Vegetable Soup


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    3 quarts (3 liters) water
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) lentils
    4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
    2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
    1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
    2 ribs celery, sliced
    1/2 pound (226g) green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths
    1/2 pound (226g) red or white potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
    1/2 bunch kale, ribs discarded, leaves torn into bite size pieces
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle

    4 medium tomatoes, chopped
    1 6-ounce (169g) can tomato paste
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar or other mild vinegar
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    Freshly ground pepper

  1. Combine the water, lentils, carrots, onions, parsnip, celery, green beans, potatoes, kale, cloves, and fennel seeds in a 6 to 8-quart (6 to 8 liter) stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Partially cover the stockpot, and simmer for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the vegetables are tender.
  2. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to break down some of the softer lentils and thicken the soup.
  3. Add the fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, cloves, and pepper. Adjust seasoning as needed, and simmer another 5 to 7 minutes to blend the flavors.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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