Soup with the Simons: Red lentil & sweet potato (and living with war)

By | November 22, 2012

What a week.

Scores of rockets have been fired at Israel before, but I’ll be honest — it wasn’t until they started falling closer to home, in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion, that it became real for me. This week, it started feeling more like a war that I was living and less like a war that I was watching on the news.

On Sunday, I heard a huge boom and thought a rocket had fallen in our yishuv. …And then I realized it was only thunder. Sheh kocho u’gvurato maleh olam. The same thing happened on Monday, this time a boom so loud and strong that the caravan actually shook. Was it just my mind playing tricks on me? I don’t know. It was only the thunder again.

Tuesday, though, brought an actual siren signaling that a rocket was imminently on its way. It was about 2:15 p.m. and I was making an omelet for lunch when I heard a wailing sound outside. I paused, spatula in hand. Was…that the siren?

I opened the window slightly and listened. Yes. It was.

I knew that even if the rocket fell in our area, I had a full 90 seconds to get to a safe place — and the truth is, that’s not bad. In Sderot they have just 15.

I hurriedly shut the window, turned off the stove, and grabbed my cell. And then I ran to our bedroom, where I crouched on the floor between the wall and my bed.

My husband and I had determined that this was the safest spot for me. The shelters on the yishuv aren’t being used because we’re considered to be outside the rockets’ range, but we still hear the siren because we’re part of a larger region (which includes areas inside the range). Even if there was an explosion, it would be unlikely that a piece of furniture would fall on me if I was in that spot. So I stayed put.

I dialed my husband, who was in Jerusalem, to make sure he was okay. He was trying my phone at the same time, and neither call went through. My mouth started moving, saying tehillim as if on autopilot. A minute or two later, a text message from my husband came through, and shortly afterward, there was a text from the yishuv saying that our area was secure — the rocket had fallen in the Gush. More tehillim…

My head filled with thoughts of everyone we know in the Gush. My cousin, her husband, and their two boys. One of my rebbeim from seminary, the one who read our ketubah at our chupah. Good friends.

Soon enough, I found out that the rocket fell in an open area (ironically, between two Arab villages). But it was scary until then.

I’ve started to truly understand the terror that our brothers and sisters in the south have been living with on a constant basis. I can’t say that I know what it’s like for them. But I can say that I know what it’s like more than I did last week.

I wish I could bring them all a big pot of this soup. I almost don’t want to call it comfort in a bowl because that’s just so cliche. But I can’t help it. It’s comfort in a bowl!

The red lentils, sweet potatoes, and carrots practically dance with the cumin and balsamic vinegar. There’s a soft spiciness and a subtle sweetness, and when you toss in a few handfuls of fresh parsley, it’s just perfect. I know I’ll be making it often this winter.

We’re all hoping this ceasefire proves to be more than just rhetoric. I guess I’ll believe that when I see it.

But even with all of this insanity, even with the fear and the rattled nerves…there is absolutely no place in the world I would rather call my home.

One year ago: Fresh pumpkin gingersnaps


Keshet on November 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm.

Thinking of you Tali. I was on the phone with Israel a few times when the sirens went off. So scary!


Victoria (Itsy Bitsy Balebusta) on November 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm.

This was such a hard post to read – I can’t imagine living it. I hope that you’re safe and well.


Hindy on November 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm.

Been thinking about everybody in Israel right now. My thoughts and prayers are with you right now. Very scary!


Rena on November 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm.

Glad you are safe!
Do you think this would be ok with the cumin? It’s not my favorite spice. Any suggestions for a replacement?


Tali Simon on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm.

I think you can use extra thyme or just skip it. I love the flavor, but it will still be a great soup with it.


T on May 29, 2013 at 3:54 am.

I am not a big fan of tomatoes. Can I omit them?


Tali Simon on May 30, 2013 at 9:05 am.

Sure, it will still be good. Add an extra sweet potato or some extra carrots.


Shevy on October 29, 2013 at 7:37 am.

Just made this last night for dinner…delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, even bought cumin since I didn’t have. I wanted to get into lentils for the healthy and cheap aspect. I served it with the ‘fancier’ soup/salad croutons and it was a meal in a bowl. I definitely had to add a nice amount of water and a little salt but that’s to be expected. And it made so much so I get to freeze some and have it on hand..yay. Thanks Tali I <3 your blog…I sort of wish you weren't a vegetarian b/c your chicken recipes would probably be amazing 😉 😉


Tali Simon on October 29, 2013 at 8:19 am.

That’s definitely the first time anyone has said that. Sounds like high praise. :)


Rachel on December 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm.

This was the first pot of soup I made for this cold, rainy week and it was delicious. Tastes even better the day after it’s made, so make a big pot!


Aviva on January 5, 2015 at 2:33 am.

I just wanted to thank you for this recipe. My son’s bar mitzvah was parshat Toldot and I felt compelled to serve red lentil soup. I tried some others but yours was perfect and it froze really well so that it was delicious when we served it at the bar mitzvah and what was left refroze well also. We just finished up the last.
Thanks again!


Tali Simon on January 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm.

What a cute idea! Totally something I would do. Thanks for your comment!


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