Red Orange Yellow Lentil Potato Soup

I love lentils. If you spend any time with me, you’ll see I have a tendency to talk incessantly about the mighty lentil. And why not? The red lentil is particularly interesting to me. It is called a red lentil, but 9 out of 10 artists agree, the lentil is really orange in color. Magically, at the end of the cooking process, it resembles a yellow color.

Watch and you will see the color of the lentils magically change right before your eyes!

So, let’s do it! Today, I’m making a spicy red lentil soup with cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. I love spices. They remind me of raw pigment. The turmeric will give the yellow a boost and it has a ton of health benefits. The cumin lends a smoky earthiness, and the cayenne adds a kick!

We’re starting trinitarian on this one, and a little bit goes a long way! I’m making a big pot and only using one carrot, a couple of stalks of celery, one onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.

One potato…

And a lemon. And we’re off…

I’m starting off with the garlic. With my fingers, I am freeing a couple of the cloves inside.

There are a couple of ways to the remove garlic paper. I’m starting a clove with my big knife and pounding the flat edge with my fist.

The paper falls off effortlessly.

I don’t know why people complain so much about peeling garlic. This one I’m peeling by pressing on the clove with my hand. The paper pops right off.

Okay, I’ve got the garlic paper in the compost, and now I’m rough chopping the cloves.

A little smaller…

Here we go!

I’m moving the garlic onto a plate for now. We’ll add it with the carrot and celery in a minute.

I’m chopping off the rough ends of the celery and tossing them into the compost.

I want this celery to be a dice, so I’m starting by cutting lengthwise strips.

One down.

Now I’m gathering all of the strips together and cutting them crosswise.


Celery meet garlic. Garlic, celery.

Alright, onto the carrot. I don’t want the rough ends, so I’m cutting and composting the top and the tip.

This particular carrot was not straight. It appears it was having an internal struggle on which direction it wanted to grow. So I cut it in half. Now, it’s much more manageable. I’m not in the mood to apply one formula to two different shapes. And I would like to keep my fingers. I’ve dealt with carrots that had three or four distinct shapes before. Breaking awkwardly shaped carrots down into units makes the process go nearly conflict-free.

So my goal is to take this round carrot and give it four, flat edges.

It’s much easier to chop a stable carrot.

Now, I’m cutting the squared up carrot into four “columns”.

Flipping the carrot columns onto the wide side, I’m repeating the process of columns along the top.

Carrot strips. A tempting snack. Must. keep. chopping…

Gathering and dicing!

And we’re off!

I’ve saved the onion as the last of the trinity to go through the chopping process. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I still find myself subjected to onion tears. You know, I like being able to see the other vegetables.

Peeling the onion’s outer layer away with my fingers…

Look at this angelic white bulb (even though it is a yellow onion!) This recipe works with any medium-bulb onion – red, white or yellow. Grab whatever you’ve got on hand.

See you later top and tip…

I’m separating the onion into two eastern and western hemispheres. This is the prime meridian, not the equator.

So, I’ve laid the onions flat on their center, and I’m cutting crosswise along the onion (this is parallel to the top cut from earlier.) Personally, I think this method keeps the onion together longer and makes it easier to chop. Someday I might take a cooking class though. I know there must be many ways to chop an onion!

Now I’m cutting lengthwise, and the onion falls perfectly into pieces. The design of the onion lends itself to falling apart easily.

Onions check.

Now, I’m heating some olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottom pot. I’m using a few tablespoons worth, but you really only need enough to keep the onion from sticking to the base of the pan (1T or 2T will do).

I’m adding the onion to the olive oil right away. I want it to mellow out before I add anything else.

I’m also adding a pinch of salt and giving the onions a stir.

While the onions are cooking, I’m going to work on the potato.

I’m starting by slicing the rounded curve into an edge, and I’ll repeat that until I have four flat edges. I’m also shaving any excess potato skin off with my knife. A peeler would come in handy here too, but since I’m only doing one, I’m sticking with my trusty knife. I’m not looking for perfection, and I like these potato chunks to be a bit rustic.

Looks like the onions are soft! What a scent!

Now I can add in the carrot, celery and onion.

Aw. What a happy family.

Let’s spice this up, shall we? I’ve got turmeric, cumin and cayenne.

Starting with the cumin, I’m adding a half teaspoon to the pot (you can add more if you like!)

Now onto the turmeric! I’m adding a half teaspoon here too, but you can add as much as you want. Without the turmeric, the soup will be a pale yellow color. This ochre-ish pigment looking powder punches a mean yellow hue! It’s fabulous!

See that little addition in the lower right hand side of the pot? This red-colored trojan-horse sneaks in under the radar. It’s a quarter-teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Red Orange Yellow Lentil Potato Soup packs a punch, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it!

This bit will spice up the whole pot. If you’re not into spicy foods, half the cayenne or eliminate it entirely. If you’re feeling a need to push it even spicier (hello cowboy!), try a half-teaspoon of cayenne. Personally, I’m not averse to spicy foods, and I like the kick of a half-teaspoon. It’s a super food, it’s not for the faint of heart and little bit goes a looooooong way!

Okay. Give the mixture a stir, and let’s return to our friend the potato.

Cutting the potato lengthwise into three long sections…

I flip the potato and repeat it on the other side…

A quarter turn later, and we’ve got a rough dice. Yum. I love potatoes!

I’m moving the potatoes over to the mixture in the pot and giving the whole mix a stir.

Looking good!

The star of this dish is the red lentil, and as with all lentils, you have to look them over before placing them in the pot. The process of packaging lentils often includes foreign bits, so you’ll want to remove anything that’s not a lentil! I do this by pouring the lentils in batches out on a plate. This helps me see what belongs and what doesn’t!

Today I’ve discovered a little grain looking item and some shriveled rock-like lentil pieces that I don’t want in my pot. Sorry guys. You are not invited to this party.

Alright, now we can add the lentils in with the vegetables and spices.

Now I’m adding water – enough to cover the whole mixture by an inch.

A little salt and pepper, a cover and we’ll let this boil for 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime I’m cutting this washed lemon. I like to cut the lemon a little shy of the center. I can usually avoid seeds this way!

35 minutes later, and we’ve got a yellow soup with orange carrot confetti! (I wonder what this would look like with purple carrots?!)

Let’s add that lemon juice!

Alright, I’ve transferred this to a bowl, added a bit more salt and pepper, and it’s taking every ounce of self control in my body to keep me from eating this NOW.

Ooooh man. The smell is divine.

There you have it: Red Orange Yellow Lentil Potato Soup. Vegetarian. Gluten Free. Full of flavor. Super filling. Packed with nutrients…

It’s basically a bowl full of health. Sometimes I make a big batch and we’ll pull from it throughout the week for lunch or when we’re in a pinch for time. The leftovers are amazing. This is the best fast food on planet earth.

…Great for groups. Fun to make with kids. Works as a starter or as a main course. What more is there to say?

So now that you’ve watched the color changed before eyes, won’t you join me in having a bowl? Enjoy!

Posted in Analagous, Color, Orange, Orange + Yellow, Yellow | Comments closed

Something Special

It’s Leap Day!

…And it’s something special. Leap Day encapsulates that rare 24-hour reminder that we get a chance to start something special, dare to step out, do something special or take some time out to reflect. It’s a chance to see the ordinary with fresh eyes. Simply put: It’s a gift.

A year ago this month, we launched Art&Table. Throughout the seasons of the last calendar year, we have bantered into many fresh conversations over email, the phone and around the table. We have made many meals, experimented with all sorts of interesting foods and celebrated one another. This is the stuff of life.

I am proud to say that this marks the one-year anniversary of Art&Table.

Here’s to another year! May you be pleasantly surprised, delighted and thankful for the abundance we all enjoy. Happy Leap Year!


Posted in Recipes | Comments closed

Trinitarian Cooking

Threes. Triplets. Trios. Triptychs. Triads. Tres. Threes.

Art + design loves a good one-two-three. Emphasis on the three.

Look to photography (or any study that involves composition), and you’ll learn about the rule of thirds. Look throughout the history of art, and you’ll find the ever present triptych. The Jackson 5 knew it! Sing with me! “A-B-C, it’s easy as 1-2-3…” I could write ten pages on why threes are beautiful, but just trust me: three is good design folks.

One of the most important “threes”
in cooking
is carrot, onion

If you learn nothing else from me,
please remember this trinity.

In France, this has a fancy name.
They call it mirepoix.
You can sauté it, roast it
even eat it raw.

You come and say,
“Why, your food always tastes better than mine!”
In a week you will be calling,
telling me how your food is now sublime.

You need this simple secret; it’s been around for centuries.
It is the aromatic powers of onion, carrot and celery.

Dice ‘em, slice ‘em or pound ‘em into a puree.
Want to experiment with what’s in your fridge?
With this mixture (as your backbone), you’re on your way.

Think of this carrot-celery-onion triad like vanilla ice cream. It’s a base. Layer your heart out, and your food will still taste terrific.

Fear not! You don’t have to stick to one “form” of onion, carrot or celery. There are vegetables within each family that do the trick as well.


Try orange carrot, yellow carrot, purple carrot or carrot greens. Want creole cooking? Sub out the carrot for a bell pepper.

Check out those tasty greens! (They’re flavor? Carrot!)


Try the ever present celery stalk, celery root/celeriac, celery seeds (whole or ground), celery salt and/or celery leaves (I love celery leaves). Though flat leaf parsley tastes different, it is an interesting celery partner or stand in.


This is celeriac. Also known as celery root. Celeriac has the texture of a potato and the flavor of celery!

Here is a blend of celery leaves and flat leaf parsley. I love this with apples, in a salad or sprinkled over roasted veggies.


Try yellow/golden onion, red/purple onion, white/spanish onion, scallions/green onion, leeks, spring onions, ramps, chives, boiler onions, shallots and/or garlic.


Looking forward to chives again this spring! I love the purple buds on my table.

I’m looking forward to the variety of onions at the market!

Hopefully we’ll see those trendy midwestern ramps again this year.

Shallot we make something a bit milder?

Here was what we found in our local market this week in terms of onions. There are a lot of options! I like the stalky leek. It is perfect in every way.

Here are two example pots of different combinations. These are both a sauté: first carrots, garlic and leek… (no celery is no problem)!

The second: paper thin onions, carrots and celery sautéing in a bit of olive oil. Classic.

This was the base to a chicken noodle soup. Once the veggies were soft, we added some water, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, shredded chicken and some pasta. We turned up the heat and brought the entire pot to a boil. Once the pasta was soft, we removed the soup from the heat, and we delivered it to our friend.

If you learn nothing else from me,
please remember this trinity.

Share this simple secret; it’s been around for centuries.
It is the aromatic powers of onion, carrot and celery.

Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed
  • Posts to Email
    * indicates required