Easiest of the Easy: Lentils Monastery Style with New-style Southern Cornbread

Well…. I’m still struggling with the fact that working in a commercial kitchen; however excellent, fruitful and fulfilling, diminishes my desire for cooking at home. Tonight I’m trying to convince myself that cooking is easy and satisfying by making two of the easiest and yummiest dishes in my repertoire. They are Monastery-style Lentil Soup and New-style Southern Cornbread. Here we go!

LENTILS, MONASTERY STYLE from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe (1971)

I don’t remember who shared this recipe with me, but bless their little heart I’ve made it many many times over the years. I remember going to the bulk spice store when I was 19 living out with my friends for the first time and specifically buying a tiny bag of thyme and marjoram so that I could make this soup. I bought tiny quantities, and recall paying 10 cents for one bag and getting the other bag of spice for free because it didn’t even register on the shop scale. With those two bags of spice I made this recipe many times. That was also the era when I was into buying 6 lb. tomato bags for $1 so be sure some of that went into this soup as well. All power to people who can make and eat yummy healthy food with next to no $$.

In a large pot saute 3-5 min:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped

Add and saute for 1 min. more:

  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram


  • 3 cups stock or seasoned water (tonight I’m using turkey stock from Canadian Thanksgiving)
  • 1 cup dried lentils, washed
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lb. canned tomatoes

Cook in a covered pot until the lentils are tender (~45 min.) and add 1/4 c. sherry.

This is also great served with grated cheese on top.


Tonight I’m making it with New-style Southern Cornbread, a recipe shamelessly lifted from Erin’s recipe library circa 2002. It’s from Cooks Illustrated May/June 1998.


Adjust oven rack to lower middle position, preheat to 450 degrees. Set an 8″ cast iron skillet in the heating oven with 1 tbsp. butter. Put a kettle onto boil.

Together in a small bowl mix:

  • 2/3 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

In a larger bowl, measure out 1/3 c. cornmeal. When the water is boiling, measure 1/3 c. of it and whisk in with the 1/3 c. cornmeal. Gradually add 3/4 c. buttermilk, whisking in gradually and beating out the lumps. Add 1 large egg, beaten lightly.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just moist. Take the skillet out of the oven and swirl around the butter to coat. Pour the extra butter into the batter and mix.

Pour batter into the heated skillet and bake for 20 min.

I haven’t eaten these yet, they’re still simmering or cooling down. If they taste crap together I’ll let you know, but I have hopes. I have hopes.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bethany says:

    This looks great! Perfect for the warm hippie mush eating season.

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