Red Lentil Soup

We are weeks away from Passover and I am starting to feel the pressure. What is it about this holiday that brings out an obsession with cleanliness in a way that is totally and completely out of character?  I approach the task with a vengeance, a virtual attack on that lurking piece of hametz that might otherwise be missed.  Each year this personal struggle re-surfaces.  When does my preparation for Passover morph into my being possessed by Passover?  There are those who have said that when people are less knowledgeable regarding the rules governing Pesach, they have a tendency to go overboard.  Is that really what it boils down to?  Ignorance?
I remember my mother sharing memories of her family’s preparations for Passover in pre-war Poland.  Her home was whitewashed each year, linens were boiled and pillows were opened and re-stuffed with additional feathers from ducks and geese that were freshly slaughtered. (The fat was rendered and put away for Passover to eat with matzoh) My own childhood memories of Passover preparations thankfully did not include the killing of ducks and geese but I do remember my mother spending hours on her hands and knees polishing parquet floors with Johnson Paste Wax.  She insisted on cleaning our apartment windows and I can remember watching her perched outside the 4th story window with nothing to keep her safe other than the double hung window pulled down tightly across her lap.  Only her legs were dangling inside the apartment and, as a child, I held onto them for life.
So here I am in the weeks before Pesach contemplating what the next few weeks will bring and wondering how successful I will be in my pursuit of moderation.  This past week I took my first step as I gingerly approached the pantry.  I looked inside and pondered the contents.  I still have hope that some interesting recipe will inspire me to prepare the freekeh I recently purchased but the matzoh meal from last year had to go.  Some things will be used over the next few weeks, leaving less to pack up and sell.  Standing in front of the pantry I realized that, for me, all this preparation is a way to impart the importance of Passover and it’s traditions to our children in a non-verbal way, as it has been done by women for generations.  What better way to convey the seriousness in which I approach the holiday and all that it stands for.  The hard work, attention to detail and the pursuit of that last piece of hametz is my personal way of telling the story of Passover. Ultimately we hope to create memories that our children will recall and pass on to their own children.  We hope that the lesson is well learned and joyous and as for moderation, it is probably overrated.
Here is a recipe for a soup that I made using the red lentils I found in the pantry.

Puree of Red Lentil Soup
2 Tbs  olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup red lentils
2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
3 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in soup pot till hot and then sauté chopped carrots, onions and garlic until soft or for approximately five minutes.  Add lentils and stir well. Add salt and pepper and paprika.  Pour 2 cups water over lentils and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook till lentils are very soft, about 30 minutes.  When done, let cool slightly and add butter and milk.  Then purée contents and serve.
Serves 4-6.
Enjoy!

Irene