Friday, April 9, 2010

Persian Lentil Soup with Sumac and Yogurt for Novel Food

Now you all know how much I love reading (bookstore owner) and cooking (Crispy Cook blogger) and when the opportunity to combine these two passions presents itself, I am in heaven. Every two months, my two blogger buddies Jo and Deb and I take turns hosting a foodie book club online at Cook the Books (we are reading Nigel Slater's funny and very informative book "Eating for England" right now), but in between I cannot resist reading many other books that educate and tempt and entertain me. Some even inspire me to head toward the kitchen and cook, and so when the book is not the CTB pick, I like to participate in Briciole's semi-annual Novel Food event.

With Novel Food, one gets to pick a literary selection of one's choice and then cook up something inspired by your reading. I recently enjoyed reading two novels by Marsha Mehran about three Iranian sisters who flee their native country after the Islamic Revolution for the small Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Here they renovate an old bakery into a restaurant serving Persian comfort foods for an increasingly appreciative batch of customers and work out the various problems that two adult sisters and one rebellious teen sister wrestle with.

The first novel, Pomegranate Soup, and the sequel, Rosewater and Soda Bread, were both enjoyable dramas, sprinkled with a bit of humor, a dollop of magical realism (there's a selkie of sorts in the second novel) and revelations of tragedies endured back in Iran. Side orders of Persian and Irish recipes enliven the reading and got my interest piqued in trying some of this savory, exotic cuisine.

Pomegranate Soup contained a recipe for Red Lentil Soup, but I didn't have a couple of the ingredients in my cupboard, so I turned to this similar recipe and made up a batch of comforting soup for a delicious Middle Eastern meal last week. Topped with a blob of Greek yoghurt, a sprinkling of ground sumac and some fried shallots from the Asian Market (not so traditional, but very tasty), this was a winning recipe.

I am sending this post over to Novel Food, where Simona of Briciole will be accepting entries until April 17. Do travel over there to see what others have been reading and cooking from after the deadline.

Another bowl of this tasty soup is being sent to my CTB cohost Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, where every Sunday is Souper Sunday, with a roundup of delicious soup posts.


Anonymous said...

I love magical realism and had Pomegranate Soup written down on a to-read list and forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder and a new title and of course more recipe ideas. I have Eating for England on my to-read pile. Must get on that as well. (But that might lead to baking and more GF sticky toffee pudding experiments.)

Deb in Hawaii said...

I read book books--Pomegranate Soup a few years ago and then the second book a few months ago. Good foodie tales. ;-)

Your soup looks delicious! Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays>

Alicia Foodycat said...

I must get those novels! They sound fascinating! And your soup looks so delicious.

Simona Carini said...

What an interesting read, Rachel. Both titles are quite charming, suggestive. I love red lentil soup and am thankful for your pointer. Also, you know, I have never tried sumac: I really should. Thank you so much for participating in our event.

Esme said...

These books look great.

Nupur said...

Both books sound wonderful; I will have to look for them. The lentil soup looks great too.

Being a bookstore owner must be a lot of fun, you get to be surrounded by books all day long :)

librariane said...

Your description of the soup made me want to run and check my own pantry for ingredients! It sounds delicious.

Do the books take long to read?