• Nicoletta Fornaro

Healing Bean and Lentil Soup


In these days when everything seems uncertain, even the weather keeps changing. I thought I was living in Italy, but at times it feels as if I were in Ireland, enjoying the four seasons in the same day. We have had sun, rain, hot temperatures (so warm in the sun you could stay in your t-shirt) and sudden drops, and a little bit of acqua alta too. In this period, many of us have more free time than usual and, at least in my case, there's a lot of thinking and wondering going on. Questions about our near and far future, and questions revolving about my life and the people that really matter to me.


In the last two weeks I literally dropped out of Facebook. I still have my personal account as I need it for the blog (my virtual yoga space), but I snoozed almost everyone in my personal feed and hardly ever look at it. I have been wanting to do it since the Venice referendum, and I shall confess that -no matter how absurd it may sound- my life has improved! Before social media existed, people were less likely to express whatever crossed their minds. We would (or would not) speak looking at each other in the eyes, with milder tones and allowing the possibility for a constructive dialogue, listening to our interlocutor's words. Now, it appears we all must have an opinion and take sides, although maybe we know very little on the issue discussed. Right now, it's too much for me: when I realised that scrolling my feed I would get sad or angry or offended, I stopped for a moment to think if it was actually worth it. I'm not even sure I personally know even half of my 1450 Fb friends... so why would a stranger be interested in what I think? Are my opinions so important to be shared with the world? And also, are all my opinions based on facts or are they just assumptions or points of view?! Not to mention the amount of fake news that circulates on the web...

We are living in strange times and to do myself good, I go for long walks, sometimes solitary sometimes with a friend, read and cook. Thanks to a girl called Valentina, a very special person, I started frequenting the neighbourhood public library again, a cosy little space just behind the complex of San Lorenzo, five minutes from my house, so cute I felt silly to have stopped going for years, preferring bigger Querini Stampalia (where, though, you can borrow only certain books) and Marciana.


Valentina entered into my life last year, a Neapolitan adopted by the lagoon, and I am grateful for our conversations, which range from Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend (book and tv series) to Venetian politics, nature, love affairs and food in general. Simple, witty, and easy-going, she enjoys the small pleasures of life and has proved to be a great listener. This, just to say that despite the hard times we are all going through, life can always surprise us with amazing gifts!


As for the rest, for now, my life hasn't changed that much... in the sense that I am used to being on my own and working mostly from home. Of course, I'm awaiting for some good news from the media too... and can't wait for all this to be over. Also, I am sorry the world is looking at Italy as the plague country. A friend of mine who is now working in Galway, told me that another Italian was meant to arrive and share the house with him and the other mates, but the owner told the boy that 'Italians are not allowed', changed the door lock and left him outside in the freezing cold at 3 am with nowhere to go. Another friend, a girl living in Spain, wrote me desperate that her co-workers are now behaving nastily towards her, accusing her of having been in Italy recently and not telling them (whereas she hasn't been here for months!).


These messages make me sad and I feel powerless. Italy has been testing for free practically everyone (yes, we have free healthcare here), and of those resulting positive to the Covid-19 test, a huge amount recovered and those who passed away were between 62 and 91 years old and with previous illnesses. Unfortunately the media uses numbers at its convenience, so there's not much we can do to make the world change its mind. But if you allow me say something, I am proud of how our doctors and nurses are working, they are tireless and deal with eternal shifts in an amazing way, opening new structures and doing all they can. Bravi davvero!

Another matter I keep thinking about is they way we consume, from food to everyday products, and I think the time has arrived for us all to reconsider the consumeristic choices we make. We all make mistakes, at least... I make mistakes everyday... but if we start considering that every choice we make has an impact, when the world will recover from this virus, we can change direction, for us, for our kids and for the planet. It will take time, for sure, but I really believe, as Greta Thunberg said, that people have the power and together we can win this battle.


After all this thinking, I will end today's post with a simple recipe: a bean and lentil soup. I used organic canned pulses as it's still early for fresh beans, but you can replace them with fresh produce or dried legumes if you wish (if you opt for dried legumes, you must adapt the quantities). Hope you will like it...


Bye for now and have a lovely day!

Nicoletta

RECIPE

BEAN AND LENTIL SOUP


Serves 4


Ingredients:

250 gr (drained weight) canned beans

200 gr (drained weight) canned lentils

2 small/medium potatoes

1finely chopped carrot

3/4 lt homemade vegetable stock

1 crushed clove of garlic

salt and pepper

bread croutons to garnish

e.v.o. oil


Method:

1. In a pot, heat some oil and add the crushed clove of garlic. When it starts popping, remove the garlic and add the finely chopped carrot and stir. Add the potatoes, the drained beans and lentils, stir, and finally add your homemade vegetable stock.

2. Bring to the boil, add some sea salt, and after a couple of minutes lower the heat. Let simmer for about 40 minutes.

3. When the soup is ready, blend with a hand blender.

4. Cut 2 or 3 slices of bread into small squares, put on a piece of parchment paper and add some rosemary (optional), a few drops of olive oil, and toast until golden.

5. Serve the soup hot and garnish with your bread croutons, some black pepper and a few drops of oil.

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