(this soup works well as a vegan soup)
fresh shitake mushrooms
oil or butter
herbs, salt & pepper, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar
Cook up a pint of lentils in water, more than a quart (add more asneeded)–1/2 – 3/4 hour.
Meanwhile, cut a couple of leeks in half lengthwise, wash them thoroughly in a sinkful of water, and chop crosswise, all the way through the green, into quarter-inch strips. Fry the leek gently in a big lump of butter or fine olive oil (sesame oil would be excellent, I think); allow some of it to brown lightly, even caramelize onto the pan a bit.
Dump in the cooked lentils and enough weak vegetable broth or water to make it soupy. Season with a generous shake of cumin (up to a tablespoon), Italian herbs, and pepper. Dump in a small glug of soysauce and a small squirt of balsamic vinegar. A little dry sherry or brandy is very good.
At the end, quickly fry up a mess of shitakes in butter or oil and put them in the soup. I cut them like a pie into eight or ten wedges, including the stems. Ordinary mushrooms can be used instead, though they don’t have the same exquisite fragrance.
This makes a family size pot of soup with some left for lunch.
Recipe a la Eleanor