Well the good news is that Charlotte is still alive. She managed to survive an entire shelf of books cascading down on her face yesterday. I really hope this doesn’t instill an eternal hatred of books in her. I can hear her now, lying on a couch when she’s in her 30s, telling her psychologist about how her parents literally forced literature on her. She’ll have the scar on her face to prove it.

Are any of you guys book fanatics? I’m kind of obsessed. I go through a lot of books. (Reading them, not injuring small children with them.) If you ever read an amazing book you should tell me about it. What are your favorites?

My friend Sarah reads more books than anyone I know. She used to go to the library every 3 weeks and get the maximum number of books they allowed her to check out, and read all of them before they were due. She even read forbidden books. When Harry Potter first came out, her parents thought it might not be appropriate, so they wouldn’t let her read it. But she secretly checked it out anyway and read it with a church magazine wrapped around the book so they wouldn’t know. Heinous!

This Tomato Lentil Soup is all kinds of amazing. I pretty much ate nothing else until all the leftovers were gone. Apparently they serve it at Cafe Zupas. I’ve never been there, but Eric got a kit to make the soup somewhere. The kit came with a spice packet, which I recreated so that I don’t have to buy the kit every time I want to make this. And now you don’t have to buy it either.

I know it is the middle of summer so I probably shouldn’t even be making soup, but honestly it is so light and delicious that you don’t even notice that it’s 90˚ outside. Tomato soup is often wussy enough that you need to eat a grilled cheese with it to fill you up, but the addition of lentils in this recipe makes it quite hearty; all you need is some crusty bread for dipping. Get your summer soup on people! And don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

Creamy Tomato Lentil Soup

Source: adapted from Cafe Zupas

2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
black pepper to taste
8 cups low sodium chicken stock
12 ounces red lentils
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 ounces (half of a 6 oz. can) tomato paste
2 cups cream
sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish, if desired

Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots, and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl mix the sugar, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper. Add spices to vegetables and stir to coat.

Add chicken stock, lentils (do not pre-soak them), diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in heavy cream and simmer for another 3 minutes. Garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt, if desired.

Makes about one gallon of soup.