As I prepared to get out of town last week I realized I had an odd assortment of things left in my fridge. So, I made an experimental Lentil Soup that turned out pretty darn well. Among other things, Peace Corps is teaching me to let go of absolute recipes (my sister ought to be so proud, she's never followed a recipe straight through in her life). Turns out things can taste pretty good when just thrown together, so long as you have that always helpful sauce of Hunger.
I honestly don't remember exactly what all went in or what proportions, so I'm going to try to let you know more or less what I had on hand. Feel free to do what I did -- improvise.
Garlic (3 cloves)
Onions (one? two? don't remember)
Vegetable Oil (a good splash)
Lentils (a few cups... not sure how much I had)
Ham (in my case, left over lunch meat)
Tomato (one last lonely tomato in my basket)
(I didn't have any celery, but I bet it would be a good addition)
Season to taste with:
....anything else that sounds good. I just went with what was available.
I threw the oil, garlic, and onions in first, shortly followed by the carrots and potatoes. Since my lentils were already cooked, they got to head in later... if you're starting with dried lentils I'd guess they'd have to be right up there with onions and would take a fair bit of time on their own.
I got so busy throwing things in that I didn't take photos of the intermediate steps. Suffice it to say that the tomatoes and ham went in toward the end, and the spices were thrown in throughout to taste.
It didn't turn out all that beautiful to look at, but it was tasty, filling, and emptied out the cupboard! I highly suggest it next time you're just too lazy to go grocery shopping, or if you need to get out of town like I did. Crusty bread in place of the club crackers would have been divine, but I'll have to wait for that addition another 21 months or so.
Cultural note: Lentils are definitely not a Guatemalan staple. I found these in a store in Xela, and haven't seen them in any of the local markets. At the same time, the concept isn't so far away from beans, so it seems like if they were more widely available it would be an easy thing for Guatemalans to embrace.